First, the research in that paper demonstrated a useful statistic, I think. It's that the municipal boundary expansion process—depending on the circumstances, the ones we compared—was six times shorter than the additions to reserve process.
Two reasons seem to demonstrate why that occurred. One was that it's much easier for the municipalities to expand their boundaries because there is jurisdictional harmony once they expand them. When a reserve expands its boundaries, you have a change in jurisdiction from provincial to federal, and so there are all sorts of harmonization issues.
The other aspect that results with respect to that particular issue is that the federal government is unable to—I shouldn't say unable to. It's almost like a game of fiscal ping-pong, I guess that's a better way of phrasing it. When it becomes federal land, there is potentially a liability for the federal government with respect to the cost of development on those lands. The federal government wants to make sure there is a great deal of economic viability and ultimately fiscal viability on those lands. Those requirements take a long time for first nations to fulfill and demonstrate.
What could be done to speed that up? Two things.
First, first nations are missing a lot of the legal framework that is commonplace within provincial systems. In my little research brief that I provided to the committee, we listed 30 or 40 laws that are essentially missing, by and large, on first nations lands, which you almost have to recreate.
If there was a turnkey framework that provided those laws, and there was some sort of regulatory harmony between those and the provincial system, that would greatly speed up the additions to reserve process.
Second is the demonstration by first nations of the economic viability and the economic potential. I think it doesn't become a game of fiscal ping-pong. It becomes an issue of this growth being beneficial to the whole region.
I think there's a real potential to see ATRs as economic instruments, which most first nations view them as. To realize that potential, you have to close the institutional gaps as quickly as possible.