Ottawa hands reserve authority to British Columbia

Nnew regulations will replace federal authority on reserve lands with B.C. regulation

B.C.’s first liquefied natural gas project is to be built on Haisla Nation reserve land, and now the province will be able to regulate its industrial and environmental terms.

Federal Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan announced new regulations Tuesday of last week to replace federal authority on reserve lands with B.C. regulation. That means the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission can regulate the project, proposed by Apache Canada and Chevron Canada on Douglas Channel near Kitimat.

“This has been a long process, but everyone’s delighted,” Duncan said in an interview from Vancouver after the announcement. “There have been no delays to the actual project, because they’ve been operating under some interim agreements with the province in terms of permitting.”

The B.C. government passed similar legislation last spring, to govern the Kitimat LNG project and a four-tower condominium commercial development proposed for the Squamish Nation reserve in West Vancouver.

Without such changes, provincial building codes and environmental laws for burning, emissions and water and land use do not apply to reserves.

 

Duncan said the delegation of reserve land use is a new approach to promoting reserve development. It has been used for a sawmill at the Fort William First Nation near Thunder Bay, industrial development in Alberta, and there is “strong interest in Atlantic Canada,” Duncan said.