B.C. civic reps lobby Ottawa over satellite reserve risk

Metro, UBCM sound alarm on aboriginal land conversion

Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin.

B.C. municipal representatives were in Ottawa Tuesday to hammer home their concerns over a draft federal policy that they fear may let new aboriginal reserves spring up in the midst of local cities.

The revised additions-to-reserve policy under consideration by the federal government would allow First Nations to propose creating new reserve land outside their traditional territories – a major change.

Representatives from the Union of B.C. Municipalities and Metro Vancouver told the Select Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs they support the addition of new reserves that are adjacent to existing ones, but not land that’s non-contiguous or outside traditional territories.

Metro reps have before warned that the outcome could be satellite reserves – possibly established by faraway bands – that could be developed in contravention of local zoning and confound municipal planning.

“We raised that issue,” Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin said, adding he’s hopeful federal officials may yet make changes to the draft policy before finalizing it.

Daykin noted land within a municipality that is converted to reserve status would no longer pay local property taxes or utility fees.

“If it becomes commercial or industrial, the municipality loses the ability to collect property tax on a high-valued piece of property,” he said.

The House of Commons committee asked Daykin if he supported First Nations ownership of fee simple land in his city, and he said absolutely.

Daykin noted the Kwantlen band obtained an old gravel pit from the province that it’s developing into housing, but noted it is subject to all municipal regulations and will pay taxes because it remains fee simple property.

“That’s fine and I hope they make a bunch of money.”

Other issues include utility servicing – if polluting effluent from reserve property is improperly dumped into the local sewer system, the municipality or the region have no recourse.

The B.C. delegation underscored that they want to see clearer rules for consulting cities and ultimately deciding whether a proposed reserve addition proceeds.

With Daykin was Prince George Coun. Murry Krause on behalf of UBCM and two senior administrators from Metro and UBCM.

Daykin said he believes the trip to physically speak to the committee was “well worth the effort” as its members appeared to take the B.C. concerns seriously.

The additions-to-reserve issue has been divisive at the Metro board.

Some mayors have raised the spectre of First Nations buying up and converting strategic land – possibly in downtown Vancouver – where businesses may then operate under looser rules and pay less in tax.

Concern has also been raised that additions-to-reserve could be used to develop farmland now locked in the Agricultural Land Reserve.

Vancouver councillors have repeatedly said such fears are overblown and undermine efforts to establish productive relations with First Nations.

Just Posted

New ‘meowyoral’ race featuring felines announced by Chilliwack animal shelter

Organizers hope the cat election will generate attention for both the shelter and municipal election

VIDEO: Education Minister talks SOGI 123 and the Chilliwack school board election

He said people are making ‘noise about side issues but student safety is important’

Chilliwack athletes win provincial titles at Cultus Lake Triathlon

Close to 700 athletes competed in several distances, with action starting at Cultus Lake Park.

Chilliwack Chiefs add defenceman Alexander Marrocco

Marrocco is the younger brother of PJ Marrocco, a forward from last spring’s RBC Cup champions.

Rally in the Valley in Chilliwack to talk stewardship

It’s an event to connect interested locals with groups making a difference with species at risk

B.C. RCMP turn to Const. Scarecrow to shock speeders into slowing down

New addition will watch over drivers from a Coquitlam median for first-of-its-kind pilot in Canada

B.C. home to 1/3 of Canada’s overdose deaths in first 3 months of the year

There were 1,036 overdose deaths in the first three months of the year, with 94 per cent accidental

B.C. candidate moves from hospice care to council race

He beat terminal cancer twice and entered hospice when he decided to run for council.

Canadian tobacco exec pushes back against vaping health concerns

A warning from Interior Health about the unknown health risks of vaping is getting a partial rebuke

Ministry of Agriculture commits $300,000 to help B.C. farmers obtain land

B.C. Land Matching Program supports access to affordable farmland for young farmers

Lower Mainland city calls for slower trains near popular beach

Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner said ‘it’s the least we can do’

Canadian air force short 275 pilots

Attrition outpaces recruitment and training claims Air Force

Teacher suspended after physically shushing, saying ‘shut up’ to student

Grade 5 student reported feeling ‘confused and a little scared’

Most Read