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UBCM to discuss First Nations land title decision

Whistler gears up for another busy week coming on the heels of non-stop September events

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And you thought it was winding down into shoulder season?

Whistler is gearing up to host one of the biggest conventions in the resort — the annual Union of British Columbia Municipalities convention.

It will bring more than 2,000 delegates from local government, the provincial government, related associations, media and staff to Whistler from Sept. 22-26.

"It's one of the largest conferences that we host," said Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden, of the conference that will be hosted by the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW).

"Be prepared for a very busy week... So, you might want to think about having your dinner reservations the following week!"

The mayor highlighted one particular panel session she is keen to attend in the weeklong event — the Tsilhqot'in land title decision, known as the 'William Case.'

In June this year the Supreme Court of Canada concluded that the Tsilhqot'in Nation had established Aboriginal title to more than 1,750 square kilometres of territory in the Cariboo-Chilcotin region. The decision marked the first time in Canadian law that a declaration of Aboriginal title has been made.

"There's going to be a panel discussion about the significance of the William decision that the Supreme Court of Canada had on local governments so I'm really looking forward to that session," said Wilhelm-Morden.

The Plenary Session take place on Sept. 23 from 1:45 to 3 p.m. at the Whistler Conference Centre.

Chief Roger William, Xeni Gwet'in First Nation, and a director of the Cariboo Regional District, will provide an overview of the decision from the Tsilhqot'in Nation's point of view. The session will include legal, federal and provincial representatives. It will touch on a number of topics and subject matter areas that affect local governments in an effort to carve out an understanding on how this decision will affect communities now, and in the future.

The overall theme for this year's conference is "Leading Edge."

Among the sessions are:

• an agricultural study tour of the Pemberton Valley;

• Reconciliation in Action;

• Are You Ready for the Big One? Managing a Catastrophic Event;

• LNG in BC: Opportunities and Challenges.

The RMOW hosted the conference most recently in 2010, when it generated more than 3,400 room nights, tipping the scales to make it the busiest September on record.

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