Vancouver Coun. Geoff Meggs and Richmond Coun. Harold Steves debate the risks of the federal additions-to-reserve policy at a Metro Vancouver board meeting Friday.

Metro Vancouver alarmed over satellite aboriginal reserves

Vancouver directors say 'doomsday' fears about First Nations land acquisitions overblown

Metro Vancouver’s board voted Friday to lodge its objections to a federal policy change that could let First Nations create satellite aboriginal reserves in the heart of local cities.

Critics say Ottawa’s proposal to revise its additions-to-reserve policy would let an aboriginal group buy property in any city and then convert it to reserve land, which is exempt from local zoning and other municipal rules.

Delta Mayor Lois Jackson said a band from northern B.C. could buy up a city block in downtown Vancouver, convert it to reserve and confound normal urban planning.

“The complications surrounding the issue are immense,” she told the board. “We have to be very cautious and very guarded.”

White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin went further, suggesting a First Nation that buys Pacific Centre mall in downtown Vancouver and gains reserve status for it would suddenly control an “ultra-competitive” special taxation zone where merchants’ costs might be much lower, creating uncertainty for nearby properties and businesses.

Baldwin said such a scenario could affect any city, adding he has been approached by First Nations interested in investing in White Rock.

In the past, new land given reserve status generally had to adjoin a band’s existing reserves. That restriction would be lifted under the policy now proposed, and bands would get more scope to use it for economic development.

The Metro motion endorsed a staff report that outlines a series of concerns for local cities, including disjointed land-use planning, the loss of taxation base and difficulties recouping the costs of utilities and other services from lands converted to reserve.

The motion was opposed by Vancouver councillors who sought to soften the language, warning the concerns raised were overblown and risked irreparably harming future relations and negotiations with local First Nations.

Vancouver Coun. Geoff Meggs said Metro should strike a tone that’s more supportive of First Nations’ economic development aims, particularly in light of history.

He described the century-old reserve system as “the crumbs from the plate that were left for First Nations to subsist on when allocations were made in the absence of treaties.”

Meggs said the “doomsday scenarios” that have been raised haven’t surfaced so far in civic dealings with First Nations in B.C.

“We should approach this in the spirit of problem solving, not fear and trembling.”

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan countered Metro is legitimately defending its interests and those of local cities with the federal government, which has little clue of the ramifications.

“I don’t think apartheid works,” he said, adding Canada’s multicultural success has been built on integration.

Corrigan said he prefers to see First Nations “hold land in the same way every other citizen holds land.”

Bands with economic power can invest their money like anyone else, Corrigan said, but giving the land they buy a different status “is discriminatory to other citizens.”

Richmond Coun. Harold Steves said newly created reserves are also exempt from the Agricultural Land Reserve, so the policy could open up a new way to pave over protected farmland.

“They can put just about anything there they want,” Steves said. “God knows what will happen.”

Just Posted

18 months conditional term for indecent caller

Incidents reported in Surrey, White Rock and Langley

Delta mosque holds silent prayer vigil for Christchurch victims

Event emphasized the importance of acceptance, solidarity in the wake of the attack on Muslim worshippers

White Rock Mexican restaurant told to remove flag from patio

‘I’ve never heard of anything like this in my life,’ Primo’s Mexican Grill general manager said

White Rock water plant operational by month’s end

Utilities manager’s talk to Peace Arch Rotary also covers global water issues

A Surrey Mountie’s tale of reconciling her family’s history with the LGBTQ+ ‘purge’

PART TWO: Cpl. Sturko is spokeswoman of Surrey RCMP after her great uncle was ‘purged’ from the RCMP

VIDEO: The ‘most cosmopolitan’ of butterflies could migrate to B.C.

The painted lady butterfly will likely arrive this summer from Southern California

Pedestrian killed, two injured in three vehicle crash in Coquitlam

Road closures in effect following collision

Is it a homicide? B.C. woman dies in hospital, seven months after being shot

Stepfather think Chilliwack case should now be a homicide, but IHIT has not confirmed anything

Sources say Trudeau rejected Wilson-Raybould’s conservative pick for high court

Wilson-Raybould said Monday “there was no conflict between the PM and myself”

First Nations public art piece stolen in Nanaimo

Spindle Whorl went missing over the weekend, according to Nanaimo RCMP

Father-son duo at B.C. Children’s Hospital helps new dads fight depression

The pair teamed up to introduce the only known research-based mindfulness workshop for new dads

B.C. NDP moves to provide tax credits, tax cut for LNG Canada

Provincial sales tax break of $596 million repayable after construction

B.C. river cleanup crew finds bag of discarded sex toys

Chilliwack volunteers stumble on unexpected find while removing 600 lbs of trash from riverway

Trudeau sells housing plan in visit to hot real estate market in B.C.

Trudeau said the budget contains measures to help first-time buyers

Most Read

l -->