Evidence of meeting #7 for Indigenous and Northern Affairs in the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was governments.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Murry Krause  Councillor, City of Prince George
Ralph Hildebrand  General Manager, Corporate Counsel, Corporate Services, Metro Vancouver
Ernie Daykin  Director and Chair, Aboriginal Relations Committee, Metro Vancouver
John Gailus  Partner, Devlin Gailus Barristers and Solicitors
Gary MacIsaac  Executive Director, Union of British Columbia Municipalities

12:25 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

If you don't mind, could I get Mr. MacIsaac? I've got less than a minute left.

Mr. MacIsaac, could you comment?

December 3rd, 2013 / 12:25 p.m.

Executive Director, Union of British Columbia Municipalities

Gary MacIsaac

It's important to reflect on what Mayor Daykin said: early and ongoing consultation. One of the methodologies we used in B.C. in the past was a memorandum of understanding on local government participation in the new relationship with first nations. We had an agreement with UBCM, with the province, and the Government of Canada that identified UBCM's role in the treaty process, and more recently in the non-treaty process as well.

We certainly have an ongoing MOU that's current with the province. That agreement with the Government of Canada has not been renewed; it has lapsed, and we think one of the ways to ensuring early and ongoing communication would be to look at the formal memorandum that talks about the local government role in the process.

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Chris Warkentin

Mr. Storseth, we'll now turn to you for the next seven minutes.

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Storseth Conservative Westlock—St. Paul, AB

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. I want to thank all the witnesses for their excellent testimony.

I hope the committee takes the time to explore this further. I know the AAMDC and the AUMA in Alberta have also been seized with this debate and would have a lot of input that I think would be very good to hear from.

Mayor Daykin, thank you for your comments. Under the new ATR policy, what is the role for municipalities? What are the mechanisms in the policy that will ensure consultation and ensure that your municipalities have a say in the ATR?

12:25 p.m.

Director and Chair, Aboriginal Relations Committee, Metro Vancouver

Ernie Daykin

I think what's key for the municipalities is to be involved in the conversation and to be able to comment on the implications for our local governments, but also for the region. In Maple Ridge, if we want to have a development that's outside of our urban boundary, we need to go to the region, explain what the benefit is to the region and why we feel it's important, as the District of Maple Ridge, to move forward on that. I would see that we would be able to have those similar conversations with our first nations groups if they wanted to have an addition to a reserve: what does that look like as part of the region?

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Storseth Conservative Westlock—St. Paul, AB

Do you feel, under the new ATR proposed policy, that this is enshrined in that, so you will be guaranteed that?

12:30 p.m.

Director and Chair, Aboriginal Relations Committee, Metro Vancouver

Ernie Daykin

I don't think we're guaranteed that. I think there's some work to be done on that yet.

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Storseth Conservative Westlock—St. Paul, AB

If an ATR goes through in Maple Ridge, say, what guarantees do you have on land use once the addition to reserve is completed? Do you have any say in land use? Do they have to follow your guidelines whatsoever?

12:30 p.m.

Director and Chair, Aboriginal Relations Committee, Metro Vancouver

Ernie Daykin

No, my understanding is they're beyond our regulatory....

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Storseth Conservative Westlock—St. Paul, AB

How about environmental standards that are set aside? Do they have to follow any environmental standards?

12:30 p.m.

Director and Chair, Aboriginal Relations Committee, Metro Vancouver

Ernie Daykin

Again, I think once it becomes an addition to reserve, we have limited ability to impose that those lands come under regulations.

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Storseth Conservative Westlock—St. Paul, AB

Mr. Hildebrand, would you like to comment at all?

12:30 p.m.

General Manager, Corporate Counsel, Corporate Services, Metro Vancouver

Ralph Hildebrand

Once they are ATR lands, we don't have any authority to have any control over the environmental issues, which is of course one of our concerns as a provider of services like sewer services.

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Storseth Conservative Westlock—St. Paul, AB

As Mr. Gailus rightfully pointed out, when first nations communities are going to look to ATR, or something, they're going to want the most valuable land they can get their hands on. How will that affect your municipality if your most valuable land falls outside of your land use framework, outside of the environmental standards, of yours and the province?

12:30 p.m.

Director and Chair, Aboriginal Relations Committee, Metro Vancouver

Ernie Daykin

I think at the most basic level, if it's commercial, industrial land, and our tax rate is $12.30 per thousand of assessment, and that land is now out of our tax base, we've lost that revenue.

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Storseth Conservative Westlock—St. Paul, AB

There's also the issue of fairness, I think, when it comes to this, too, for the other individual businesses that will be in the surrounding areas. Would you agree there's an issue of fairness when it comes to that?

12:30 p.m.

Director and Chair, Aboriginal Relations Committee, Metro Vancouver

Ernie Daykin

There could be an impact.

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Storseth Conservative Westlock—St. Paul, AB

Is there anything that stops first nations communities right now from buying this land in fee simple and operating it as a business, as they would under the current guidelines, as any other business would?

12:30 p.m.

Director and Chair, Aboriginal Relations Committee, Metro Vancouver

Ernie Daykin

Actually, we have an example in Maple Ridge right now where we have a great working relationship with Kwantlen First Nation. They acquired an old provincial gravel pit as fee simple, and they've gone in partnership with a local developer. They're building houses and doing quite well. It's remaining fee simple. Again, they're working with the local business. I'm assuming it's part of their economic model that's helping their first nation, and it's worked well.

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Storseth Conservative Westlock—St. Paul, AB

Would you suggest this as an example of successful economic development?

12:30 p.m.

Director and Chair, Aboriginal Relations Committee, Metro Vancouver

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Storseth Conservative Westlock—St. Paul, AB

I just have a couple more questions, if the chair permits.

In regard to consultation from the federal government, in the role the federal government has of consulting with municipalities such as yourselves and those that you represent, has there been extensive consultation when it comes to this new policy? Have you had a say in the new policy development?

12:30 p.m.

General Manager, Corporate Counsel, Corporate Services, Metro Vancouver

Ralph Hildebrand

We're grateful for the opportunity, obviously, to appear here in front of the committee, and we have had previous discussion—well, one previous phone call—and we have had the opportunity to obviously submit our positions on the ATR policy. I wouldn't say that we've had extensive dialogue over some of the nuts and bolts.

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Storseth Conservative Westlock—St. Paul, AB

Would you say that the government or AANDC, the department, has developed a social licence to move forward with the wider community, your constituents?

12:30 p.m.

General Manager, Corporate Counsel, Corporate Services, Metro Vancouver

Ralph Hildebrand

I would say that in the context of this particular policy, more work would have to be done before that social licence would exist.