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treaty negs

Mitchell fears land use conflicts could lead to clashes Last week the province and the Greater Vancouver Regional District announced the Lower Mainland Nature Legacy, a plan to more than triple the amount of urban green space through the creation of provincial, regional and municipal parks in the Indian Arm area. The week before the province introduced the new Tourism Act in the legislature, which will give the tourism industry a say in regional land use decisions. Meanwhile the province is committed to doubling the amount of protected land in B.C., to a total of 12 per cent, through CORE, the Protected Areas Strategy and other processes. But while these provincial land-use initiatives are taking place, B.C., the federal government and more than 40 First Nations are trying to hammer out treaty agreements, including native land claims. The announcement of the Lower Mainland Nature Legacy in particular surprised the Squamish Nation, as they have identified the area as part of their traditional territory. "The government has taken some good initiatives, the problem is the pieces of the puzzle don't fit together. You add them all up and they equal more than 100 per cent of the province," says West Vancouver-Garibaldi MLA David Mitchell. "The government appears to have created a hornet's nest." And Mitchell fears the land use conflict won't be resolved soon because the NDP government's mandate runs out in the next 18 months. "I worry about the potential clashes in the community — some of them racial," Mitchell says. "I'm worried we could face terrible consequences, including violence." But Linda Jolsen, Lower Mainland treaty negotiator for the provincial government, says the treaty process is very time consuming, and in the meantime the government has business to do. "The government has decided it wouldn’t put a moratorium on managing the province (while the treaty process is underway)," Jolsen says. She stressed that treaty negotiations with the Squamish Nation, whose traditional territory includes the Whistler Valley, are at a preliminary stage. "It's difficult because governments have to plan and protect," Jolsen says, but adds: "I think I can understand the concerns (Squamish Nation) Chief Mathias has." In the Whistler area, the east side of the Squamish Nation's traditional territory approximates the Garibaldi Park boundary. The In-SHUCK-ch/N'Quatqua nation's traditional territory includes most of Garibaldi Park. However, traditional territories, which must be identified when First Nations enter the treaty process, are not necessarily what natives want or expect. Moreover, "Parks designated before the Protected Areas Strategy was introduced in 1992 are not on the table," Jolsen says. She adds, the principle is that third party holdings are not part of the negotiations; "rights will not be expropriated." Forest companies with permits, for example, will be protected, Jolsen says. However, an individual lease hold in an area a first nation is interested in might be difficult to hang on to. The Liberal party has said Crown land lease holders will likely lose their property in the treaty negotiations. Many people who lease Crown land can no longer purchase their property outright due to a policy for pre-treaty consultations, which was implemented a year ago. As for areas like the Callaghan Lake region, which is the subject of a PAS study, Jolsen said protected area strategies are done "without prejudice to the treaty process. So when the province comes to the table... they define that as an interest when they get into negotiation specifics." She adds that doesn't mean the area wouldn't be discussed in the treaty negotiations.