SRD changes position on supporting Tlowitsis Reserve application

District says it now supports the application ‘in principal,’ and is committed to ‘ongoing dialogue’

The Strathcona Regional District (SRD) board has voted to approve a letter of support, at least in principle, regarding the Tlowitsis Nation’s Addition to Reserve (ATR) application.

The application is for 630 acres of land located in SRD Electoral Area D on York Road, south of Campbell River, which spawned public outcry and confusion from some Area D residents when it was announced in early 2016.

The SRD previously witheld support for the reserve, saying the Tlowitsis had not given them enough information for them to make an informed decision whether or not to support the application, but in a release this week, the SRD has announced they will now support the ATR application.

“While the SRD does not have the authority to approve or reject the application, the board is committed to working with the Tlowitsis Nation to facilitate respectful, constructive and ongoing dialogue about their plans,” the release issued this week states.

Many area D residents have complained that they were caught off guard by the announcement and are disappointed in what they say has been a lack of transparency in the process.

“In the letter, we have provided support in principle, acknowledging that the Tlowitsis Nation have stated that they will continue to engage with Electoral Area D residents on matters of interest to them such as water and sewer services, traffic management, site planning, bylaw harmonization, and shared community benefit. The Tlowitsis have committed to working with the SRD to communicate further information with Area D residents as it becomes available,” says SRD Board Chair Michele Babchuk in the release.

“In June of 2016 the Board received a letter from the Tlowitsis Nation requesting a letter of support for their ATR application. At that time, the Board felt they did not have adequate information to comment on the ATR process,” says SRD CAO David Leitch in the release. “A working group was subsequently created, including representatives from Tlowitsis Nation, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC), the City of Campbell River, the SRD and Director Brenda Leigh, Electoral Area D representative. This group was tasked with gathering information and improving communications. The working group determined that the Tlowitsis Nation and INAC should provide further information to address concerns and questions raised by Area D residents.

The SRD, working with the Tlowitsis Nation and INAC, created information package which were mailed to all Area D property owners on August 21. From the 1,845 packages mailed, only five requests for additional information have been received. Moving forward, the SRD will continue to have a role in working with the Tlowitsis Nation to exchange information between the Nation and Area D residents.”

For more information about the Tlowitsis First Nation ATR application, visit tlowitsisnation.ca. For more information on the Addition to Reserve process, visit the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada website at aadnc-aandc.gc.ca.

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