B.C. wants First Nations to agree before old-growth logging deferred on shared lands
The British Columbia government wants First Nations to reach consensus before logging is deferred in old-growth forests on shared Indigenous territories.
Tara Marsden, sustainability director for the Gitanyow Nation's hereditary chiefs' office in northwestern B.C., said consensus represents a “high bar” in a complex process, which was not made clear when Forests Ministry staff introduced the province's deferral plan last November.
“I think the public who are concerned about old growth need to know that high bar, that it's very challenging to work in this landscape with multiple nations,” said Marsden, the main point contact for her nation on deferrals.
Marsden said she had initially understood from the ministry's messaging that “if you support these (deferral areas), they're going to be protected.”
Instead, there was an “unspoken expectation” from the province that consensus among nations with overlapping territories was needed, she said.
The B.C. government announced last fall that an independent panel of ecologists and forestry experts had mapped 2.6 million hectares of old-growth forests at risk of permanent biodiversity loss. It asked 204 First Nations to determine within 30 days whether they supported the temporary deferral of logging in those areas, or if they needed more time to decide.
Forests Minister Katrine Conroy told The Canadian Press that if consensus on deferrals could not be reached among First Nations with overlapping or shared territories, the province would assess the strengths of their claims.
“We can't automatically go with one deferral over another if nations aren't in agreement,” Conroy said. “So we're trying to work that out and staff are working really hard with nations to look at, you know, what can we do to reach consensus, but in the end, it becomes an issue of strength of claim.”
Asked how often shared territories are affecting deferrals,Conroy said there have been “some issues with some nations, but it hasn't been a lot.”
Any deferrals would initially last two years, allowing for consultation with First Nations about forestry in their territories, the minister said last fall.
After that, the at-risk old growth would either remain off limits for logging or be included in new, more sustainable management plans, she said.
Last month, Conroy announced that the province had so far approved logging deferral on 1.05 million hectares of old growth identified by the expert panel. Out of the 204 First Nations, the province had heard from 188, of which 75 had agreed to the deferrals in their territories, she said.
Meanwhile, about 7,200 hectares of the at-risk old growth have been logged since the government announced the deferral plan, the Forests Ministry said.
The province was clear that 50,000 hectares of the 2.6 million identified by the panel overlap with cutting permits approved before November, it said.
Marsden said her nation hadworked hard to review and confirm their support for the deferrals in Gitanyow territory before Christmas.
It wasn't until she followed up with Forests Ministry staff this month that a regional manager told Marsden the deferrals weren't going ahead.
Portions of the proposed deferrals overlap with an area affected by the Nisga'a Treaty, and Marsden said she was told the Nisga'a weren't supporting the deferrals because they're invested in the forest industry in those areas.
The Forests Ministry later told The Canadian Press the deferrals in Gitanyow territory were implemented “with the exception of a small localized area.”
A statement from the Nisga'a Lisims Government said the nation had yet to decide on the proposed deferral plan, “but instead continue to evaluate it and how it may affect our interests.”
They've been meeting with forest licensees to understand how the deferrals may affect them and Nisga'a members working in the industry, it said.
Asked whether the ministry's communication could have be better, Conroy said “staff have been working full out” to help First Nations and determine if they need a portion of $12.7 million earmarked for the deferral process.
Terry Teegee, regional chief of the B.C. Assembly of First Nations, said the province's old-growth deferral process is still “a space where there's a lot of unknowns” and more clarity is needed when it comes to shared territories.
“On one hand, we as Indigenous nations do want to figure some of these things out on our own, but what if there is differences of opinion, then what?” he said.
First Nations are being asked to come to the decision-making table when many are stretched thin, with limited capacity and resources, Teegee said.
“Overall, what we need to do, is to really develop that space so we can have meaningful dialogue and come to an ability to make those decisions.”
Gitanyow's situation underscores what Marsden sees as a problem with B.C.'s deferral process - a lack of compensation for First Nations and forestry companies that could lose revenue if old growth is off limits.
It puts the onus on multiple nations to agree on deferrals in shared or overlapping territories, she said, while “there's no financial compensation to say, 'Okay, well, you're actually not going to lose out on your investment.' ”
The deferral process also lacks support for independent analysis that would help First Nations and the logging industry understand the potential effects on local jobs and revenue and how those could be managed, she added.
Conroy said First Nations hold diverse perspectives on managing old growth.
Some have “invested years getting involved in the forest industry, and they really consider it part of their path to economic independence,” she said.
“We've had a number of people say to us, 'Well why didn't you just pay the nations?' and it's, you know, it's quite colonialist,” Conroy said.
“We are respecting nations' wants, wishes and needs, and that's part of reconciliation. We need to respect that if a nation is involved in harvesting ... we need to respect that. If they want to defer, we need to respect that.”
Compensation “never came up as an issue” in B.C.'s engagement on the deferral process with First Nations rights and title holders, Conroy added.
The province recognized that funding would be required to support permanent protection of old growth over the longer term, she said.
Where a First Nation has agreed to the proposed deferral areas,companies or communities who hold harvesting rights may voluntarily avoid those areas, or the minister may issue an order to prevent old-growth logging.
Under B.C.'s Forest Act, compensation is not required until at least four years have passed from the time the minister issues the order.
So far, the province has not had to issue any orders and “many” companies have indicated they will not proceed with logging in proposed deferral areas where discussions with First Nations are ongoing, the Forests Ministry said.
B.C.'s 2022 budget allocated $185 million over three years to support forestry workers, First Nations and others who may be affected by deferrals, as well as legislative changes that Conroy said would “reshape” forest management.
The vision is for a forest sector that “delivers higher value from our forests, with secure, long-term jobs and healthier ecosystems,” she said last fall.
The province also announced last month that it was doubling the amount of Crown forestry revenues shared with First Nations, an increase of $63 million this year, while it works on a new revenue-sharing model for the long term.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 28, 2022.
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
Police officers in cruisers, on foot patrol and on bicycles are patrolling the Parliamentary Precinct, the ByWard Market and the so-called 'motor vehicle control zone,' as the city prepares for Canada's 155th birthday celebrations and possible protests.
Saanich police will hold another update on a deadly shooting that took place on Tuesday afternoon, leaving two suspects dead and six officers with gunshot wounds.
The Royal Canadian Navy says it has relieved the commanding officer of a warship in the Pacific Fleet.
Multiple crashes involving bears in a B.C. national park earlier this month prompted a crackdown on drivers in the area, according to the B.C. Highway Patrol and Parks Canada.
Two of Canada's largest airlines announced steps this week to cope with delays, cancellations and service issues. Head to CTVNews.ca to read about the changes announced by Air Canada and WestJet.
Ottawa protest organizer Tamara Lich will spend at least five more nights in custody in Ottawa after she was arrested in Alberta for allegedly breaching bail conditions.
The Conservative Party of Canada says approximately 675,000 members will be eligible to vote in this year's leadership race.
Nine people, including a teenager, were wounded Thursday evening in gunfire outside a neighborhood grocery shop in Newark, police said.
Researchers examining the threat of emerging COVID-19 strains predict Omicron BA.5 will account for nearly 70 per cent of cases in much of the country by Canada Day.
After dog died on B.C.-bound flight, owner says airline offered compensation based on 'cargo weight'
Nearly two years after her beloved dog died on a flight to B.C., a Metro Vancouver woman says she’s still waiting for justice for her pet.
'We have that resilience and we are strong': Special ceremony marks 1 year since devastating Lytton fire
It’s been exactly one year since fire ravaged the small B.C. community of Lytton, but the source of that massive blaze remains unknown.
A B.C. father who printed off a blog post and submitted it to court in a bid to prevent his children's mother from vaccinating them against COVID-19 has lost the dispute, in part because the judge found his evidence inadmissible.
An often-vandalized memorial featuring the face of former MP Frank Oliver will no longer be displayed in front of Edmonton's Fairmont Hotel Macdonald.
A damning new report from Alberta's auditor general finds government ministries failed to include understandable, relevant and comparable data on COVID-19 in year-end reporting.
A man is facing multiple charges in connection with a rash of arsons in the Alberta Avenue area, and police are calling him a key suspect in a complex investigation.
Ontario drivers could soon see the end of "unfair" insurance policies with premiums based on postal codes, Premier Doug Ford said Thursday.
Ontario gas prices are about to take a huge drop and one expert says it will be 'well worth waiting' if drivers can hold off on filling up.
A man has been arrested after a car exploded in front of a police station in Oshawa.
Thousands of Calgarians are ready to ring in Canada’s 155th birthday as festivities are set to be held across the city, but not everyone is calling this a ‘celebration.’
A southeast Calgary bank was evacuated Thursday afternoon, to allow hazardous materials crews to investigate a strange incident.
The daughter of a Calgary man shot and killed by police earlier this year is calling for details regarding data the service is collecting about interactions between police and people of colour.
Consumer rights advocates are demanding Air Canada provide compensation to many of the hundreds of thousands of passengers whose summer flights it cancelled.
Organizers of a Montreal Caribbean festival are looking for clarity from police as to why a large group of officers interrupted their pre-festival barbecue on Saint-Jean Baptiste Day.
Two people have been reported dead and one person is in critical condition after a fire broke out in a home in Longueuil on Montreal's South Shore.
The spouse of the gunman in the Nova Scotia mass shooting will testify mid-July before a public inquiry, but she won't face direct questions from lawyers representing victims' families.
As Claire Mahaney-Lion dropped her son off at school this morning, she questioned the reasons behind scheduling a school day that would last fewer than two hours.
Saint John is having its dog day. The host city of the 2022 Memorial Cup is celebrating after the Saint John Sea Dogs bested the Hamilton Bulldogs 6-3 in front of a capacity crowd during Wednesday's championship game at TD Station.
A crash involving a Transit bus that appears to have smashed into a home has shut down a road near Osborne Village.
Security measures are expected to be beefed up at two Winnipeg locations Friday when Canada Day events get underway.
AMC working to remove Arlen Dumas after probe found his conduct amounted to 'workplace sexual harassment'
The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs is working to remove Arlen Dumas as Grand Chief of the organization.
The eviction deadline for people living at an encampment at Victoria and Weber Streets in Kitchener has come and gone, but residents of the property say they’re not moving.
A miscommunication involving a COVID-19 booster shot has left a Kitchener woman concerned for her 86-year-old mother.
The news comes just two days after the City launched a naming contest for the young bird, which it said was the first offspring of Victoria Park swans, Otis and Ophelia.
Summer is officially here as the first long weekend of the season approaches. The last week has been filled with active summer weather and heading into the weekend the story isn’t much different.
Live performance kicks off at noon on the main stage in Wascana Park with opening ceremonies, followed by a variety of entertainment:
The Saskatchewan Roughriders have 12 players on either the one or six game injured lists and 10 roster players listed as ‘out’ or ‘questionable’ leading into Saturday’s week four rematch versus Montreal.
Dozens of people gathered in downtown Barrie on Thursday evening to denounce the United States Supreme court's decision to overturn the country's constitutional protection for abortion rights.
A Barrie woman who encountered a man posing as a cop at an accident scene is grateful she followed her instincts and refused to get into his car when he offered.
Friday marks the return of restriction-free Canada Day festivities across the region, with a series of closures to celebrate the nation's birthday.
Saskatchewan's social services minister announced plans to cut funding to Saskatoon's permanent downtown shelter during a talk radio appearance.
A video captured by a Saskatchewan man shows a kayaker paddling away from a developing tornado.
It’s been 25 years since Saskatchewan’s last residential school closed, but some are still healing.
The second annual Mooz Akinonmaaget Maa Aki Moose Hunt initiative was launched Thursday in Sudbury.
With Health Canada's permission, street drugs can now be consumed inside Safe Health Site Timmins.
Sault Ste. Marie Fire Services is helping seniors protect themselves against fire. The Assisting Seniors Awareness Program or Project ASAP is focussed on those 65 or older, and still living independently.