Northwest B.C. First Nation project bags national award for land use planning

Kitselas First Nation’s 2019 land use plan wins excellence award from Canadian Institute of Planners

Kitselas administration office, in Gitaus. The First Nation’s 2019 land use plan was won a national excellence award. (Kitselas First Nation)

Kitselas administration office, in Gitaus. The First Nation’s 2019 land use plan was won a national excellence award. (Kitselas First Nation)

Kitselas First Nation’s community planning project won a national award for planning excellence from the Canadian Institute of Planners (CIP).

Kitselas’ 2019 Land Use Plan that the First Nation developed together with Meraki Community Planning is among five B.C. projects that were recognized by CIP, based in Ottawa.

The First Nation’s project won the award of excellence in the category of ‘Inclusionary Planning.’ Kitselas First Nation’s 2019 land use project was among 53 national and international projects submitted for award consideration among 11 categories, out of which the jury selected and awarded 18 projects in total.

“The Kitselas First Nation 2019 Land Use Plan takes a unique approach which is grounded in the needs of its community and can be a model for other Indigenous communities and consultants working in partnership with First Nations,” said the jury in a statement released by CIP on July 6.

The plan was developed in collaboration with the seven Kitselas communities, and included input from all generations to identify objectives which were relevant to the Kitselas people, and stressed the importance of integrating a strong element of relationship-building into the methodology.

The 2019 land use plan – which is an update of the Nation’s 2012 plan – created designated zones and visions for the use and development of the Kitselas’ nine reserves as well as resource management in northwest B.C.

It was developed after an extensive consultation with elders and community members leading to their ideas and suggestions being incorporated in to the plan. The land use plan also laid down guidelines for future use of the reserve lands. For instance, the plan designates reserves on Gitaus and Kulspai near Terrace as housing locations, whereas Zaimoetz and Chimdimash reserves east of Terrace are assigned for commercial and light industrial activities.

Kitselas council said that they were “more than thrilled” to receive the award.

“We have a very passionate membership that comes together for these land use planning initiatives which aim to enhance quality of life for our people by balancing economic, social, cultural, and environmental values,” said Geneva Mason, community engagement coordinator for Kitselas.

Mason said that the land use plan serves as one of their “overarching governance documents” that guides land use and development on reserve and emphasizes the First Nation’s rights and values on the development of their Reserve Lands.

“Our hope is that the Kitselas Land Use Plan, along with our Comprehensive Community Plan which will be unveiled soon, are incorporated into regional and provincial land use plans to strengthen government to government relations,” added Mason.