New CRD body to focus on First Nations issues

Committee will handle issues faced by bands within and outside of treaty process

First Nations on the South Island are the focus of a new committee being formed by the Capital Regional District.

CRD board chair Geoff Young confirmed last week that the advisory group is being created partly to get out in front of any issues arising from the ongoing Temex’w Treaty negotiations. Coast Salish First Nations involved in those discussions include Songhees, T’Souke, Beecher Bay, Malahat and Nanoose.

The CRD board already has a treaty advisory committee in place to represent CRD interests at the negotiating table, but Young said this new group will have a different set of responsibilities.

“Some First Nations are not in treaty negotiations,” he said. “Even for those that are, there are other issues that are not directly related, or not related at all, to treaty negotiations.”

Those could include contractual delivery of services such as water and emergency response, access to reserve lands by highway and zoning requirements, Young said.

Land-use issues that may come up during treaty negotiations could also be overseen by the new committee, he added.

Members will be appointed in the coming weeks, after the CRD board has had a chance to look at similar models from other regions.

Young said he expects there will be partial overlap in membership with the treaty advisory committee, which is chaired by Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins.

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