On Feb 21, the Water, Land and Resource Stewardship Minister Nathan Cullen (Minister) announced the province will not be moving forward with proposed amendments to the BC Land Act that would have allowed the province to enter into shared decision-making agreements with Indigenous governments over land use.
The Minister said the decision emerged from discussions with hundreds of representatives of stakeholder groups and that the province needed more time to “demonstrate the real benefits of shared decision-making in action”.
The team at Boughton will continue to track developments on this topic.
The BC government has recently begun public consultation on proposed amendments to the BC Land Act that would allow the Minister responsible under the Land Act (Minister) to share decision-making with Indigenous governments.
Up until now, decisions under the Land Act have been made by the Minister (or their delegates), who has a legal duty to consult with affected First Nations.
The proposed amendments will enable agreements to be made between the Minister and Indigenous governments such that joint decision-making between the Minister and Indigenous governments will be required where such agreements apply.
The subject matter of the consultation is significant as the Land Act “allows for access and use of public land for 25 separate programs from communication towers to agriculture to waterpower projects”.
The proposed amendments are being put forward by the provincial government pursuant to their mandate under the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act “to take all measures necessary to ensure the laws of British Columbia are consistent with the Declaration“.
The consultation period is relatively short, with March 31, 2024, as the deadline for submissions, which must be in writing. Businesses who rely on Land Act tenures, and First Nation governments whose traditional territories are often impacted by Land Act decisions, may wish to review the materials posted on the government’s website and make submissions in a timely manner.