Forest products are mostly harvested from Crown land in B.C.

Forest products are mostly harvested from Crown land in B.C.

Aboriginal title upsets B.C. forest policy

Landmark case says Forest Act doesn't apply where title is proven, cancels Crown timber licence

VICTORIA – The Supreme Court of Canada’s decision upholding aboriginal title in the Nemiah Valley in B.C.’s Southern Interior has major implications for provincial government policy, and the most immediate may be to forest licences.

The ruling comes as the B.C. government considers the results of a province-wide consultation on converting volume-based timber cutting permits to area-based permits, to encourage longer-term forest stewardship by licence holders on Crown land.

About 40 per cent of B.C.’s timber is harvested under 180 volume-based forests licences on Crown land. Private land is not subject to these licences, and was also excluded from the Tsilhqot’in Nation aboriginal title case that struck down a forest harvest licence issued in 1983.

B.C. Attorney General Suzanne Anton said it will take some time for the province to consider amending the Forest Act and other legislation that has been affected by the decision.

More than 90% of B.C. is Crown land, and much of that is subject to forest licences as well as unresolved aboriginal land claims. In the Tsilhqot’in territory west of Williams Lake, the high court’s landmark ruling negates the cutting permits that triggered the legal case in 1983.

“Now that title has been established [in the Tsilhqot’in claim area], the timber on it no longer falls within the definition of ‘Crown timber’ and the Forest Act no longer applies,” wrote Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin in the unanimous judgment released June 26.

McLachlin wrote that the B.C. government can still enforce “general regulatory legislation” such as that dealing with pest invasions or forest fire control in areas of proven aboriginal title. But a timber licence in such an area is “a direct transfer of aboriginal property rights to a third party” that would have to be agreed to by aboriginal title holders or justified as an intrusion of their constitutional rights.

The judgment left it open to the B.C. government to amend the Forest Act so it conforms with aboriginal title as it is declared.

In recent years the province has begun negotiating resource sharing agreements with aboriginal communities, including forest tenures and shares of provincial royalties from mines.

Two weeks before the Tsilhqot’in judgment, the B.C. government announced a three-year “stewardship agreement” with five of its member communities.

The province is providing $670,000 per year for projects to address forest and wildlife effects from the mountain pine beetle epidemic in the region.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Courtenay Nissan’s Matthew Bourassa, Geoff Piper and Sean LaFleur join YANA’s Ashley Smith, Kelly Rusk and Lisa Wilcox for the 4x4x48 event to raise funds. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Courtenay Nissan eats and runs for YANA

Dealership realized non-profit groups need new ways to raise funds during COVID

Rev. Sulin Milne at St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Comox is part of those helping distribute food to those in need within the town. Photo by Jim Peacock
Comox church serving the community with food through COVID-19

“We knew there were so many people who were facing economic challenges …”

Cole Moore with one of his sisters, Jasmin Moore. Photo supplied
Courtenay man looks to brain surgery for second chance

Cole Moore’s sister sets up GoFundMe to help father looking after brother

Comox Valley RCMP had access to 20 Street blocked off between Cousins and Choquette avenues as they conducted a raid of a house on the block. Photo by Terry Farrell
Nineteen people arrested, charges expected in Courtenay house raid

Investigators are continuing to comb through evidence seized

Demonstrators gathered Friday, March 5 at the Courtenay Court House, demanding protection of old-growth forests. Scott Stanfield photo
Concerned citizens march in Courtenay in name of old-growth rainforests

The Comox Valley is one of the B.C. communities engaged in mobilization… Continue reading

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

(Black Press Media files)
Medicine gardens help Victoria’s Indigenous kids in care stay culturally connected

Traditional plants brought to the homes of Indigenous kids amid the COVID-19 pandemic

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: One man shot dead in ‘targeted incident’ in Metchosin

Highway 14 reopens following multi-hour closure for investigation

Most Read