Delegates to the first full meeting of the Land Use Planning Process Community Forum spent their first day learning about the process, and the second day challenging it, but in the end they came away with a better understanding of how passionately they care about the islands and optimistic they can accomplish their task, Heidi Bevington writes.
“It’s a really good mix of people. They represent differing interests, ages, cultures, genders and backgrounds. And they have a lot of interest and enthusiasm. I see a very high level of commitment and energy,” says forum co-chair Carol Kulesha.
The community forum, which met last Friday and Saturday in Queen Charlotte, is composed of 29 people representing 15 interest areas. They’ll create a land use plan that balances ecological, environmental and cultural values. And they only have 15 months to do it. During the 15 months, the forum is scheduled to meet for 30 days, but already the group is realizing they may have to schedule some extra meetings if they are going to accomplish their task.
Guujaaw, President of the Council of the Haida Nation, and Stan Hagen, BC’s Minister of Sustainable Resource Management were to open the process, but both were unable to attend at the last minute.
The delegates spent Friday learning about process schedule, procedures and boundaries. For instance, they’ll create a management plan but will not be negotiating forestry tenures or setting an annual allowable cut. They also met the new co-chair for the CHN, Tamara Rullin who replaces Gilbert Parnell.
Saturday morning, the delegates introduced themselves, and some spoke quite passionately. From the beginning, it was apparent delegates were speaking from a common ground based on a community understanding built over time by people who live on the islands, said Cindy Davis an observer.
After lunch, co-chairs Carol Kulesha and Tamara Rullin addressed some of the issues raised in the morning, rather than continuing with the agenda, and the delegates had the chance to express their concerns about the process.
Some said they’d like more time to get to know each other and talk to people they don’t know, and others wanted to learn more about other delegates’ interests. However, all expressed optimism that the group can collaborate successfully to create a land use plan.
In response to the delegates’ concerns, the co-chairs noted their suggestions and promised to incorporate them into the next meeting.
The rest of the afternoon, the delegates listened to Robert Prescott-Allen, the executive director of the Coast Information Team which will provide technical data for the delegates to use in their decisions.
This Land Use Planning Process began in April 2001 when the CHN and the province signed a protocol that laid out conditions for cooperation and a commitment to ecosystem based management.
The next forum meeting is scheduled for October 2 and 3 in Masset.
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