B.C. Land Act Amendment and the Future of British Columbia

The B.C. Wildlife Federation is committed to reconciliation and co-management of this province’s natural resources with First Nations. The BCWF has partnered with dozens of B.C. First Nations on hundreds of projects over the past two years, restoring wetlands, conducting world class restoration, training field technicians, and leveraging government and philanthropic funds in the interests of wildlife and everyone in British Columbia. We also fund independent scientific research on fish, wildlife, and habitat in cooperation with local First Nations. 

We are here to work together, for a brighter future for all. However, the provincial government has set this province on an uncertain trajectory, by launching a trivial public consultation on co-management of roughly 95 per cent of the land in British Columbia. 

The government’s timeline for the consultation and the implementation of public land-use agreements is truly terrifying. The public engagement period on the required Land Act amendments ends March 31, 2024. The government intends to start drafting the amendments in February, nearly two months BEFORE the public consultation period ends. This is a sham. Clearly, the government has already made up its mind about the content of those bills and that the opinions of ordinary British Columbians don’t matter.  

The government intends to begin passing legislation during the spring session of the legislature, which ends on May 16. The future of British Columbia hangs in the balance. 

The amendments under consideration will profoundly affect the ability of British Columbians to steward, access, and enjoy nearly every inch of the province for recreation and business, while delivering effective veto power, disregarding the concepts of natural justice and procedural fairness. 

According to an analysis by McMillan LLP, a firm specializing in indigenous law: “These amendments would go much further than the Supreme Court of Canada’s rulings based on the recognition of Aboriginal rights set out in s. 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.  While the Supreme Court has issued many decisions making clear Indigenous groups hold certain special rights, including the right to be consulted before decisions are made that could affect them, the Court has repeatedly stated that they do not have a veto over Crown land decision-making.”  

The approach the province has taken gives British Columbians the impression their voice doesn’t matter and that they are being erased from the future.  

The B.C. Wildlife Federation is committed to co-management with First Nations and we prove that with our actions every single day. But the provincial government must move forward in a way that everyone can see themselves in a shared vision and a shared future.  

Promoting conservation and ensuring public access for camping, hiking, hunting, and fishing are essential to our collective future.  The B.C. Wildlife Federation will push back against the province with all of our resources to ensure all British Columbians are represented. 

Please take the time to meet with your MLA and engage with them to ensure the shared values of stewardship and conservation are respected, and a future with camping, hiking, hunting and fishing is preserved. 

Public engagement is open on the Land Act Amendments until March 31, 2024. Add your voice here.

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