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Debate intensifies over plan to share B.C. Crown land decisions with Indigenous representatives


The NDP government is planning some major changes to the way decisions are made when it comes to public land use in B.C.

It's proposing giving Indigenous people more power when it comes to managing Crown land, through a major overhaul of the Land Act.

But critics question whether there's been enough consultation, given more than 90 per cent of the province’s land is under that Crown designation.

Whether it’s the vast expanses of forest and the decisions made over logging use, or major mining projects seen as vital to the province’s economy—who gets to decide what it’s used for has major implications.

The official Opposition is among those critiquing the government’s approach – arguing it isn’t doing enough to let people know consultation is underway about giving more input to Indigenous peoples.

“The government should be very up front that we’re going to engage in a public discussion about a massive change in how we deal with public lands and who makes decisions in the interest of the public,” BC United leader Kevin Falcon said Monday.

But Premier David Eby suggests this is a natural step after the provincial government passed the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act in 2019.

“Since then, we’ve been engaging in the work with First Nations, around major projects, private projects, public projections, the northwest transmission line,” Eby said on Monday.

But there is a pushback under way, with a former chief provincial treaty negotiator highlighting his concerns in a recent analysis of the proposed changes to the Land Act.

“I liken it, in some respects, to what we saw happening with the Joffre Lakes situation last year, where some of the First Nations there felt it was not appropriate, not in their interest for continued access to the park, public lands, and that decision was made unilaterally – and I think a lot of people were concerned about that,” Robin Junger with McMillan LLP told CTV News in an interview on Monday.

Members of the Pender Harbour and Area Residents’ Association already have a taste of this – claiming they're not being listened to in a similar dispute over dock management on the Sunshine Coast.

“If we’re going to change how we’re going to govern (Crown land) I think we should all be aware, and we should have a full and frank discussion about how that should occur,” Sean McAllister said in an interview on Monday.

In response to the concerns, Squamish Nation councillor Khelsilem posted on social media platform X on Monday: “Governments exercise authority. Indigenous governments exercise authority over title lands as an Indigenous right. The colonial panic about this coming change is ridiculous.”

People can share their opinion about the proposed changes by e-mailing the government at by the end of March. Top Stories

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