MMFN First Nation has said that it will restrict access to portion of Highway 28 that passes through the Nation’s land until a road use agreement is reached. (Black Press file photo)

MMFN First Nation has said that it will restrict access to portion of Highway 28 that passes through the Nation’s land until a road use agreement is reached. (Black Press file photo)

Vancouver Island First Nation blocks highway access to logging trucks in Gold River

Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation restricting access for Western Forest Products pending road deal

A Vancouver Island First Nation is poised to blockade the highway between the town of Gold River and its port to logging traffic until it gets compensation for the use of its land.

Mowachaht/ Muchalaht First Nation (MMFN) has announced its intention to restrict access to the portion of Highway 28 that passes through Ahaminaquus Indian Reserve Number 12 (IR 12) to the logging company Western Forest Products (WFP) effective immediately.

“This act is in response to WFP’s continued and repeated trespass on MMFN IR 12, and the province’s failure to fairly compensate MMFN for the ongoing trespass,” said the Nation in the statement. “Since MMFN never approved or consented to WFP’s use of the road that crosses MMFN’s IR#12, WFP’s continued use of the road constitutes an act of trespass.”

MMFN said it has the “right to control use and access to its reserve lands.” According to its statement, ever since Highway 28 was built 50 years ago, it has been in trespass. It maintains the land has never been legally transferred to the province and it has not been paid a cent for the use of the road by the logging company.

The legal basis for this is section 18(1) of the Indian Act, which states that “reserves are held by Her Majesty for the use and benefit of the respective band for which they were set apart.” The Nation also stated that trespassing upon a reserve or part of a reserve is an offence under sections 30 and 31 of the Indian Act.

WFP uses the section of Highway 28 in question to bring fibre to its log sort. Much of this fibre is then offloaded onto barges destined for Asia.

“Millions of dollars worth of their business goes through this road through Gold River to the waterfront,” said Dorothy Hunt, MMFN lands manager who has been trying to negotiate a road use agreement with WFP and the provincial Ministry of Transportation.

Hunt said that the Mowachaht/ Muchalaht took the step to restrict access after trying to negotiate with the company “for many years.” However, it states WFP’s responses are “not feasible.” According to Hunt, WFP has not been willing to meet compensation demands and has been “pushing off” its responsibly onto the province.

“The Nation has been patient with the province and WFP but it has been a disjointed progress all along,” said Hunt. “WFP has to come to the table and be realistic about the Road Use Agreement with MMFN.”

In addition, WFP’s decision to change its operations in Gold River and contract work for Tree Farm Licence 19 outside the community was done without consultation or informing MMFN, Hunt said.

In an email, WFP spokesperson Babita Khunkhun said the company has been in ongoing discussions regarding the portion of Highway 28 that crosses IR #12 and is working in good faith to quickly resolve this complex issue.

She also said that the company values its relationship with the Mowachaht/Muchalaht and understands the desire of the Nation to resolve the issue.

Khunkhun also said that WFP is seeking clarity from the province on its position in relation to this road given it has been held out as a provincial highway.

“Like other businesses in the area, Western has relied upon the classification of the road as a provincial highway to invest in the region,” KhunKhun said.

“Highway 28 is a critical artery in the Gold River community, not just for Western, its employees and contractors, but also for community members, many of whom use the road daily to travel to and from work in various industries operating in the area. We are committed to continuing to work in good faith to achieve a fair resolution for everyone.”

READ ALSO: Gold River council asks B.C. to provide stumpage contribution to small communities

First NationsforestryGold River

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

Just Posted

The CSRHD board has diverging views on its relationship with Island Health. File photo
Comox-Strathcona board ponders relationship with Island Health

“We have to stand together … to get our share of the health budget.”

The CVCDA Accessibility Project is creating safer ramps at the Courtenay facility. Photo supplied
Accessibility project underway at Comox Valley Child Development Association

Over the past month, you may have noticed some construction underway behind… Continue reading

19 Wing Comox’s Wing Auxiliary Security Force (WASF) will be conducting training at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Comox and the Department of National Defence Seal Bay training area from April 12-16. Black Press file photo
19 Wing training set for April at Seal Bay, CFB Comox

Members of the public may see an increase in activity at locations in the Valley

The Union Bay Improvement District is holding its AGM April 29 as it looks to hand over services to the regional district. Record file photo
Union Bay board hikes water rates due to operating costs

Board also planning for AGM, transition to regional district service

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

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

The 10-part Netflix series Maid, which is being exclusively shot in Greater Victoria, was filming near Prospect Lake in Saanich last month. (Photo courtesy Fred Haynes)
Province announces $150,000 towards South Island film studio, fulfilling B.C. NDP promise

Investment to fund movie studio feasibility study at Camosun College

Tyson Ginter, 7, is proud of his latest Hot Wheels he recently received by Quesnel RCMP Const. Matt Joyce. (Photo submitted)
B.C. Mountie handing out toy cars to light up children’s faces

‘A lot of times it will be the only interaction they have with the police,’ says Const. Matt Joyce

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a technical briefing on the COVID pandemic in Canada, Friday, January 15, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s ICUs see near-record of COVID-19 patients last week as variant cases double

Last week, Canadian hospitals treated an average of 2,500 patients with COVID-19, daily, up 7% from the previous week

University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
UVic, women’s rowing coach deny former athlete’s allegation of verbal abuse

Lily Copeland alleges coach Barney Williams would stand close to her and speak aggressively in the sauna

Librarian Katie Burns with the Fraser Valley Regional Libraries poses for a photo in Chilliwack on June 18, 2019. Monday, April 12, 2021 is Library Workers’ Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 11 to 17

Library Workers Day, That Sucks! Day, and Wear Your Pyjamas to Work Day are all coming up this week

Nanaimo RCMP are asking for the public’s help in identifying the man suspected of being involved in a stabbing. (Photo submitted)
Nanaimo RCMP trying to identify stabbing suspect who wielded rusty knife

Stabbing followed argument between two men at Port Place Shopping Centre April 1

Most Read