The Peace River Regional District wants to start a dialogue with Treaty 8 nations to talk about the legal implications for lands owed and offered through treaty land entitlements.

The regional district wants to better understand their legal position in the ongoing TLE process with Doig River, Halfway River, Saulteau, West Moberly, and Fort Nelson. The province is working with the nations to transfer lands that have been owed for more than 100 years, and to compensate for the impacts of Site C construction.

The lands owed fall into three categories: shortfall lands, Site C lands, and additional lands for fee simple purchase. Regional district staff presented to the board on May 28 a summary of lands selected to date.

Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman said it’s not necessary to meet with all the bands, only with those who have selected lands that may be of concern to the regional district.

“Unfortunately, it’s not the province that has the regulatory framework that needs to be addressed with this, it’s the feds,” Ackerman said, noting Fort St. John and Doig River signed a memorandum of understanding in March to establish an urban reserve for its land selections within city limits.

“Local governments need to have discussions with the First Nations, to provide them with our official community plans,”  Ackerman added, citing federal policy for treaty land selection.

The regional district has reached out to the bands, but Doig has been the only one to respond so far. A meeting is planned for June.

“In most cases, the selections should not be an issue,” said Director Karen Goodings, agreeing that letters could be sent in place of meetings. “But I do think it’s dangerous to convey what we do or do not support, as far as our rules and regulations go.”

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