BC: Is Mining About To Come To A Grinding Halt?

British Columbia’s Lands Minister Nathan Cullen of the New Democratic Party (NDP) has assured the public that they won’t be sidelined in the move toward joint, consensual management of Crown land with First Nations. However, concerns have been raised over the lack of transparency and engagement with the broader public in this decision-making process.

The NDP government’s minimalist approach to seeking submissions on the plan to legalize co-management of Crown land with First Nations has drawn criticism. The call for submissions was directed primarily to stakeholders and insiders, with a subtle posting on the government website. The failure to inform the broader public of this meanwhile has sparked controversy.

The consultation period, slated between now and March 31, coincides with the drafting of enabling legislation for the new co-management regime, which the NDP aims to pass with its majority before the house adjourns in mid-May. Critics argue that the timeframe for consultation, drafting, and enacting the legal authority for Indigenous co-management is too tight, considering the significant changes proposed.

Cullen defends the move, stating that it aligns with the principles of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, incorporated into the Declaration Act in 2019. However, skeptics emphasize that legislative changes are required to implement co-management, contrary to Cullen’s suggestion of it being a natural progression.

The Land Act, currently under the authority of the Minister of Water, Land, and Resource Stewardship, is being amended to give legal effect to decision-making powers for First Nations over Crown land. These amendments aim to ensure that agreements with First Nations “have the force of law” and provide the NDP Cabinet with the ability to establish processes for their timely implementation.

The implications of this move are substantial, as the Land Act governs access to approximately 95% of the province, comprising Crown land. It affects numerous tenures, from communication towers to agriculture and waterpower projects, according to government summaries.

Despite Cullen’s assurance that the amendments will not alter current programs or tenures, concerns linger about the vague statement of purpose accompanying the call for written submissions. The potential impact on tenures up for renewal or a change of ownership under the new co-management regime raises questions.

Cullen acknowledges the government’s learning curve in communicating the ongoing shift to co-management with Indigenous people. He cites the need for improved communication to avoid backlash, referencing a recent joint-management plan for docks and boathouse tenures on the Sunshine Coast that triggered public outrage and threats.

While outbursts of this nature may explain the government’s reluctance to draw attention to the broader plan for consent-based, joint management of Crown land with Indigenous peoples, critics argue for better public involvement in advance. The fear is that without proactive engagement, the public may discover the government’s intentions too late to influence the outcome.

As the controversy unfolds, concerns are also being raised about the potential consequences for industries such as mining in British Columbia. Critics fear that if the plan is implemented, it could lead to a crisis in the mining sector, impacting the province’s ability to compete globally for resources.

Information for this briefing was found via Vancouver Sun and the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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