Metro Vancouver is pulling out of the Lower Mainland Treaty Advisory Committee to chop a $324,000 annual grant to the body that monitors aboriginal issues and observes treaty talks on behalf of local cities.
But the move leaves neighbouring regional districts in the lurch that were represented by LMTAC and has raised questions about whether Metro will have observers in future treaty negotiations with area First Nations.
LMTAC rep Alan Nixon had pleaded with the Metro board to fund the committee for another six months.
But Metro’s board voted against a reprieve Friday.
The regional district now will handle those issues through its own aboriginal relations committee, which will report more directly to area mayors.
“First Nations people are now moving into other aspects of governance,” board chair and Delta Mayor Lois Jackson said. “It’s important the mayors be very closely related to these issues.”
Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan said Metro Vancouver had been subsidizing LMTAC for the benefit of the neighbouring Squamish-Lillooet and Sunshine Coast regional districts.
Richmond Coun. Harold Steves voted to continue the grant and at least postpone winding up LMTAC to properly assess the implications.
The province, which bargains on behalf of cities at treaty tables, allows an LMTAC rep to observe the talks.
Metro officials believe the province will agree to instead allow the Metro committee to name an observer to future negotiations.
Funding for LMTAC from Victoria has been cut over the years from $80,000 down to $10,000.
The entire future of the treaty process has been increasingly in question, with the B.C. Treaty Commission recently suggesting it should be scrapped if more progress doesn’t come within a year.
Metro Vancouver is home to B.C.’s only urban treaty, with the Tsawwassen First Nation.
But most other aboriginal groups in the region are not actively negotiating, opting to instead pursue land development and business opportunities on their reserve lands.
Metro had also been poised to terminate a $60,000 a year grant to the Recycling Council of B.C. to run a recycling hotline.
The board agreed to continue the grant for one more year.
Metro already runs its own website helping locals find recycling options, at MetroVancouverReycles.org.
The board approved other contributions to external agencies, including $300,000 to the Fraser Basin Council, $175,000 to the Pacific Parklands Foundation, $100,000 to the Seymour Salmonid Society, $100,000 to assorted cultural organizations and $35,000 to agricultural awareness organizations.