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

Two of the weapons seized in a Nov. 8 traffic stop in Black Creek. Photo supplied by RCMP
RCMP seize guns, drugs in Black Creek traffic stop

Two arrested in connection with incident

The Island Aurora arrived in Port McNeill on Sunday, June 14. (Gaby Wickstrom Facebook photo)
BC Ferries to trial two-ship service on Campbell River – Quadra Island route

BC Ferries’ newest vessel, Island Aurora, will sail on the Campbell River… Continue reading

Group physical activities have been suspended at Campbell River facilities. File photo by Marc Kitteringham - Campbell River Mirror.
Group physical activities suspended at Campbell River sports facilities

Classes and programs suspended at Strathcona Gardens, Sportsplex and Community Centre

The North Island 9-1-1 Corporation (NI911) has supported local residents for 25 years. Black Press file photo
North Island 911 looks to change how they get funding

Three options to be decided upon in early 2021

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest day of pandemic with 13 deaths, 738 new COVID-19 cases

Number of people in hospital is nearing 300, while total cases near 30,000

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

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

(File photo)
Alberta woman charged after allegedly hitting boy with watermelon at Okanagan campsite

Police say a disagreement among friends at an Adams Lake campsite turned ugly

Court of Appeal for British Columbia in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. woman loses appeal to have second child by using late husband’s sperm

Assisted Human Reproduction Act prohibits the removal of human reproductive material from a donor without consent

Krista Macinnis displays the homework assignment that her Grade 6 daughter received on Tuesday. (Submitted photo)
B.C. mom angry that students asked to list positive stories about residential schools

Daughter’s Grade 6 class asked to write down 5 positive stories or facts

B.C. projects targeting the restoration of sockeye salmon stocks in the Fraser and Columbia Watersheds will share in $10.9 million of federal funding to protect species at risk. (Kenny Regan photo)
13 projects protecting B.C. aquatic species at risk receive $11 million in federal funding

Salmon and marine mammals expected to benefit from ecosystem-based approach

Picture of two swans leaving the Cowichan estuary moments before one was shot out of the sky. (Submitted photo)
Petition to stop hunting in Cowichan estuary after swan shot

Hunters blame shooting on illegal poachers

Most Read