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.

 

Just Posted

Significant heritage house on Beach Drive to be restored

Heritage Revitalization Agreement approved as part of subdivision proposal

Experts to capture and collar 20 female deer in Oak Bay starting this month

Does sedated, examined, collared and ear tagged in latest phase of deer management plan

BC BUDGET: Fare freeze and free travel for seniors on BC Ferries

A complete fare freeze will be put into place on major routes, and fares will be rolled back on smaller routes by 15 per cent

Victoria airport to spend $19.4m on terminal expansion

Record passenger growth means YYJ needs to grow

Oak Bay skaters bound for BC Games in Kamloops

Saanich resident aims for second gold

VIDEO: Top 10 B.C. budget highlights

The NDP is focusing on childcare, affordable housing and speeding up the elimination of MSP premiums

BC Cattlemen’s Association calls for remediation of firebreaks to prevent erosion, spread of invasive species

Other concerns are fencing restoration and repair, and a lack of feed for cattle.

B.C. runner takes silver at Pan American cross-country championships

Tyler Dozzi’s medal pushes U20 Team Canada to gold finish

Duncan cousins found guilty of aggravated sexual assault

Assault so violent, victim required surgery

Wanted by Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers for the week of Feb. 20

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Victoria airport to spend $19.4m on terminal expansion

Record passenger growth means YYJ needs to grow

Victoria hosts North America’s first Window Wanderland event

James Bay will transform into a live art installation of decorated windows Feb. 24-25

Moose creates uber Canadian Olympic moment

A Calgary man shares a truly Canadian moment on Twitter of a Moose enjoying the Olympics

Toddler breaks leg after boot sucked into escalator at Vancouver airport

A Calgary woman is reminding parents of the dangers of escalators after her toddler’s foot was stuck in one and he broke his leg

Most Read