New legislation could allow B.C. government to share decisions on public land with First Nations

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British Columbia’s Minister of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship, Nathan Cullen, is preparing sweeping changes to the province’s land act.

If passed, the legislation will allow the province to share decision-making powers for public lands with Indigenous groups.

“This puts a tool in the toolbox for us,” said Cullen earlier this week.

“When we’re approached by a Nation or a company, and they say we want to make some changes, we want to bring a new project, can we come to an agreement upfront about what the rules are going to be?”

Cullen adds that this new amendment to the legislation will lead to greater harmony between the government and Nations, fewer court cases, and fewer protests.

The legislation has been criticized, mainly over the lack of public consultation about the proposed changes and little publicity. Green Party MLA Adam Olsen says he likes the idea of the legislation but wants to see some areas clarified.

“So to drop this without a press release, without the information, without walking people through exactly what’s happening, without reminding people that this was part of a process that we started back in 2019,” said Olsen. “I think the government has made some missteps, and I think they owe it to Indigenous leaders to clean that up.”

Cullen says if passed, this new legislation should provide more predictability for those wanting to invest in B.C. or for Nations that want to either develop or protect their traditional lands.

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