First obligation is to Haida, land use table hears

  • Feb. 24, 2006 12:00 p.m.

By Heather Ramsay–“Airy, fairy obligations to industry” came under fire at the February 14 Land Use Plan meeting held in the community centre in Masset.
“You have an obligation to us first,” said Gary Russ, who represented the Council of the Haida Nation on the planning table. Mr. Russ is no longer with the CHN, but maintains an interest in land and resource management issues.
He made these comments after Bob Brash of Husby Forest Prodects, one of the major tenure holder representatives on the table brought up his concerns.
“Is a 20, 40, 60-percent reduction to the allowable annual cut acceptable?” asked Mr. Brash. He said he’s apprehensive about the discussions taking place under the Memorandum of Understanding between the province and the Haida and says it will take serious mitigation to forego those impacts.
Both of these speakers took their turn after CHN president Guujaaw and provincial government representative Jose Villa-Arce spoke of the difference between the LUP and the MOU.
Guujaaw told the table members who hadn’t met since a draft final report was released in February 2005 that agreement on temporary protected areas under the MOU are 99.5-percent finalized.
“It is only the few last cedar trees that we are wrestling over now,” said Guujaaw.
Guujaaw said the province expects to be in court with Husby and to have to pay off others, but they are committed to finalizing this and moving on.
Mr. Villa-Arce said there were no aspects of the Land Use Plan discussed at the Memorandum of Understanding table. He wanted to dispel the rumours that secret decisions were being made.
The MOU is not a binding agreement. It provides temporary protection until the LUP is done and permanent protected areas are finalized.
Mr. Villa-Arce tried to explain how the processes converge and diverge. He said there were tensions on the ground after the final LUP meeting in 2005, which interrupted the normal process for determining long-term protection of areas.
He also mentioned the Supreme Court TFL 39 case and how the province had to balance its common law obligations to the Haida and its statutory obligations to tenure holders.
He said the government-to-government part of the land use planning process should be done in 12 months. At that time the province would do an analysis of the AAC and establish its obligation to tenure holders.
Table member Mike Hennigan, who represents small business forestry, repeated the question of whether province was willing to accept the impacts to the AAC Mr. Brash identified.
Mr. Villa-Arce said he couldn’t say as the numbers are as yet unclear. Guujaaw was more definite. “Yes,” he said.