British Columbia: Katzie First Nation challenges gov attempts to redraw park boundaries

Katzie First Nation is suing the Ministry of Environment, claiming the
government failed to properly consult the band when it rejected a park
boundary amendment for a proposed run-of-river project in the Upper
Pitt. Run of River Power Inc. had applied for a park boundary
adjustment within Pinecone Burke Provincial Park so it could build a
powerline through the park to connect its seven proposed hydroelectric
facilities on tributaries of the Upper Pitt River to the electricity

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The proposed power project is on Katzie traditional territory and Katzie had signed a letter of intent with the company over the project. After a raucous public meeting where 1,000 people came out to protest the run-of-river project and the park boundary amendment application, Environment Minister Barry Penner announced he wouldn’t recommend that the boundaries of the park be amended so the project could go ahead.

Penner made the announcement before the formal process to review the park boundary adjustment application was completed. Pinecone Burke is a Class A park and powerlines aren’t allowed within it. Run of River Power Inc. had applied to remove 21 hectares of land from the park in order to construct its powerline.

In a Supreme Court civil suit, Katzie First Nation alleges that the Environment Ministry “breached its constitutional and fiduciary obligations to consult with and accommodate the plaintiff in regards to the plaintiff’s aboriginal rights, including title” and “breached its obligations to comply” with the terms of a 1995 co-operative management agreement between the parties for Pinecone Burke Provincial Park. In the lawsuit, Katzie First Nation alleges it has suffered damages and the band is seeking a “declaration” that the Environment Ministry breached its obligations and an order for the ministry to resume its review of the park boundary application “in a manner that is in keeping with its obligations to the plaintiff, and damages.”

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Comments (1)

COURT RULES IN TRIBES FAVORFebruary 24th, 2009 at 5:21 pm

The B.C. Court of Appeal has issued two major rulings upholding the rights of first nations to be consulted by the government, which will affect two major projects in B.C.

“In one case, the court has struck down a license required to build a massive new hydro transmission line from Merritt to Coquitlam because native Indians were not consulted.

“In the other case, the court ruled there was ‘massive’ infringement of the right of the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council to be consulted in the Kemano Power Project and later expansion near Kitimat that involves B.C. Hydro buying electricity from the Rio Tinto Alcan Inc. aluminum smelter.”

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