BC’s Land Act mess creates opportunity to figure out tough questions on DRIPA (Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act)

By David Elstone, Managing Director
The Spar Tree Group
March 1, 2024
Category: Opinion / EdiTOADial
Region: Canada, Canada West

David Elstone

By now most have heard that the proposed amendment to the Land Act was cancelled, at least until after the October provincial
election. …”For me, the proposed amendment to the Land Act itself was not the problem, rather it was what it represented – yet another proposed policy change without the operational details to understand what it meant. The constant flow of changing policy to meet aspirational intentions has been crushing the BC forest sector. …Unfortunately, the opposition rallied against this amendment by stoking fear the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act would give a veto to First Nations on 95% of the province, despite the move towards shared decision-making not intended to be a blanket change. …Did anyone pause to think what the alternative to DRIPA could be? I would surmise it would likely mean even greater uncertainty for the forest industry!

With the amendment cancelled for now, it’s time to start figuring out answers to some of the tough questions on DRIPA, such as what happens when an impasse occurs? That’s the challenge with shared decision- making – one cannot really call it “shared” when one side always gets its way. Ironically, if the BC government can override opposition, which is actually a veto – something that First Nations have existed under for the last 150 years. …Obviously, there is much work to be done based on the recent polling that found seven-in-ten feel that the then pubic consultation was moving too quickly and that 94% of British Columbians see the proposed amendment as “a major transformation of the rules governing public land use…” The sooner we can collectively figure out operational level shared decision-making, in terms that the public can grasp, the sooner some of the current challenges facing the forest industry will likely find some relief.”

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