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shíshálh-BC land use plan engagement

shíshálh-BC land use plan engagement

The shíshálh Nation and the Province are looking for public input about land use planning in the Nations’ traditional territory. Residents have until Jan. 31 to submit views via an online survey at
The shíshálh-BC Land Use Plan (LUP) area extends from Roberts Creek through to the head of Queen’s Reach on the Upper Sunshine Coast. As some of the Nation’s landholdings and federal and fee simple properties are excluded from the plan area, the process will look at setting the direction for the future of about one-third of the Lower Coast’s land base.
The survey was launched as part of the first phase of a four-year plan development process. The shíshálh-BC Land Use Plan Table, an outcome of the 2018 Foundation Agreement between the Province and the Nation, coordinates the work. The Table is a “government-to-government” technical working group, made up of two individuals with professional planning backgrounds from the Nation and two from the Province.
Jeff Juthans, land and resource specialist with the Province, who works with the Table, explained that the results of the questionnaire are to be summarized in a report that will be posted on the website. This report will also contain input received from a “long list” of stakeholder groups that were identified through contacts with Coast local governments. These include timber and aggregate licence holders, as well as recreation, environmental and economic development groups.
“Typically, the Province likes to have group meetings and workshops in these types of processes. We had a communications plan for the engagement ready last Spring, then COVID-19 came,” said Juthans. “We’ve had to revise our plans and re-start in the Fall, to develop engagement that was more virtual.”
Over 90 percent of BCs land base is covered by some sort of provincially endorsed LUP. These set general management direction and help define “what activities can occur where.” Goals are to guide sustainable resource stewardship over land, water, and resources by balancing economic, environmental, social, and cultural values.
This LUP project will focus on the themes of protecting biodiversity, ensuring watershed integrity, recognition of resources important to shíshálh culture, and fostering sustainable economic development.
Key drivers that will be considered in plan development include First Nations reconciliation, engagement of local communities and stakeholders, growing the Coast’s economy, as well as addressing issues like climate change.
Development activities already permitted will not be impacted by the planning process. Any new land use applications or permits for resource extraction within the Nation’s swiya (or traditional territory) will be. These will be subject to the joint decision-making processes outlined in the Foundation Agreement.
The current information gathering stage will be followed by an assessment phase where studies are conducted to fill information gaps. Management options and recommendations will be developed in a third phase. A draft land use plan is slated to be shared with the public in the project’s final phase. A separate public engagement on that draft is to follow by October 2023.
During the 2020 Provincial election campaign, Powell River-Sunshine Coast MLA Nicholas Simons stated that land-use planning would bring a level of certainty to the Coast’s future. Simons said he believes it will help resolve the “proposal and protest” cycle that has been experienced in the past related to land and resource development.
Connie Jordison

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