The critical Agreement-in-Principle has been reached, but the chief negotiator for the K’ómoks First Nation expects the B.C. Treaty Commission negotiation process is still a few years away from being settled.
Mark Stevenson said the band continues to wait for the federal government to give its mandate to negotiate fisheries and fiscal issues.
“We’re going through the process of legal language right now,” Stevenson said. “It’s a long, long process. In fact, it’s affecting a lot of First Nations in British Columbia.”
In all fairness, he said the band is making progress on other federal issues such as those linked with Goose Spit.
“But those are more local issues,” Stevenson said. “We’re not making any headway on anything linked with fish, particularly aquaculture, which is a large interest to K’ómoks because of Pentlatch Seafoods. There’s a number of aquaculture licences that are outstanding.”
With federal funds, the Province last year purchased the property in Royston from the failed Sage Hills project. The acreage — adjacent to several parcels of land the KFN acquired from Kensington Island Properties — will be included in the final treaty settlement package.
“Canada was a big player in that acquisition,” Stevenson said. “It ties in a whole number of pieces of property into one contiguous piece that covers between the Inland Highway and the Old Island Highway, and south of the Trent River just about to Union Bay. It’s a pretty big parcel of land that we have sitting there. We have made progress.”
The AIP is the critical fourth stage of the six-stage process. Stage five is final agreement negotiations, which will involve fish negotiations, land improvements and annual funding formulas. Stage six is implementation.