By Alex Rinfret–Haida Nation representatives used words like “furious” and “pissed off” to describe their reaction to the draft land use plan recommendations released last week, and said the process should begin all over again.
“I’m just furious today. I put my faith in the system hoping it would be a stepping stone for us,” said Allan Wilson at the final land use process meeting Thursday in Port Clements. “What this land use plan is supposed to do – it isn’t.”
Mr. Wilson, who represents Haida cultural values at the table, said he was excited about the process at the beginning and believed it would be an opportunity to share the Haida vision for the islands. But when he read the draft plan last week – the product of 17 months of meetings – his feelings changed. Some of the options put forward do not reflect the Haida vision at all, he said.
“Everything we’ve ever fought for won’t be on there,” he said, referring to maps which outlined proposed protected areas. “I’m pissed off.”
Haida Nation president Guujaaw told the land use table that the plan is far from being finished, contrary to the view of provincial representatives. He also expressed dissatisfaction with the options included in the report, some of which would allow logging in Haida protected areas, and some of which would only protect 20-percent of the islands remaining old growth forest.
“These options are designed to basically get rid of the Haida Land Use Vision and come up with something less,” he said. “We’re a long ways from finished here.”
He said that perhaps the entire process had been a “trick” of the provincial government’s, and a way to allow an unsustainable rate of resource extraction to continue. However, he said, he did not want to stop the process but wanted people to use the already scheduled two-day meeting to try and fix what they could of the plan. He urged the people representing local interests to abandon any attempt at reaching consensus with industry representatives, who he said had already made it clear they would stick to their positions.
Non-Haida islanders shared the complaints about the plan. Port mayor Dale Lore called the end result “airy-fairy – it doesn’t really mean a whole heck of a lot.”
Mr. Lore said it wasn’t surprising that people didn’t feel the plan was complete, since the table had only really been working on it since September. The previous 12 months had been spent going over the process and getting to know each other, he said.
“I would hope for this process we get more for the quarter-million spent on it than the relationships built around the table,” he said.
His comments were echoed by Travis Glasman, who represents terrestrial ecosystems. Mr. Glasman said he also was disappointed in the plan, which did not reflect the Haida Land Use Vision.
“I personally believe we are not finished,” he said. “I think we can move forward to make a balance plan that meets the needs of Haida Gwaii.”
Lynn Lee, representing aquatic ecosystems, compared the draft recommendations to puzzle pieces which have not yet been put together. The document is a good reflection of the discussions the group has had over the past several months, she said, but it is not a plan.
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