Coastal First Nations Agreement
Based on the success of coastal planning processes, the BC and the Central Coast, North Shore, Haida Gwaii and North Vancouver Island First Nations have entered into a government agreement to develop strategic sea use plans for the north Pacific coast. The plans will leverage the best traditional knowledge, available science and strong commitment from stakeholders and the public to create healthy marine environments and local economies for coastal communities. The planning process began in November 2011 and is expected to be completed in June 2014. In real terms, the agreement could lead to significant job creation in communities and a substantial increase in household incomes in these communities as a result of increased community commercial fishing activity. The economic growth projected in the agreement means that more people can stay in their communities to work, ensure a stable and stable income to support their families and reinvest the benefits of fishing in the Community. In January 2015, the Coastal First Nations filed a petition with the BC Supreme Court challenging the validity of the equivalency agreement as they eliminated the need for a provincial environmental assessment certificate issued under the Environmental Impacts Act. The petitioners also claimed that the province had properly consulted them prior to the conclusion of the agreement (or in a decision not to denounce it), in violation of their constitutional obligation to consult. The province has resisted these positions. The proponent, Northern Gateway Pipeline, also resisted them and also argued that the imposition of provincial conditions by environmental expertise would be unconstitutional, since the project is a federal undertaking.
The agreement contains provisions that support First Nations` access to fishing licences and quotas, while providing revenue from a business fishing model to support community fishing. In 2008 and 2010, in an effort to streamline environmental assessment procedures for both federal and provincial projects, the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office and the National Energy Board (“NEB”) signed equivalency agreements in accordance with paragraphs 27 and 28 of the BC Environmental Assessment Act2. , which required authorization under the Environmental Assessment Act and the National Energy Board Act3, an equivalent assessment under the Environmental Impact Assessment Act, and that these projects would not require a separate assessment under the Environmental Assessment Act4. In the province`s environmental impact process, Aboriginal consultation is not simply related to “report” or “results.”