Skip to content

qRD wants meetings with Tla’amin Nation and City of Powell River

Restarting intergovernmental gatherings discussed by qathet Regional District board
SEEKING RESULTS: qathet Regional District directors discussed the merits of meeting with Tla’amin Nation and City of Powell River on a regular basis, and having First Nations recognized by the provincial government in the Community Charter.

qathet Regional District’s board is working to reinvigorate community-to-community-to-community (C3) meetings.

At the March 28 regional board meeting, Electoral Area B director Mark Gisborne said it had come to his attention that there is grant funding through Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) for community-to-community meetings, but the deadline is April 5.

City of Powell River director Cindy Elliott said the UBCM resolution at last September’s convention that qRD put forward for First Nations inclusion in the Community Charter, the provincial response indicates they “kind of agree with us” and know something has to be done, but there is no estimate regarding when they may get around to doing something.

“I’m disappointed,” added Elliott.

She made a motion that qRD write a letter in response to the provincial response to the UBCM resolution, indicating qRD’s disappointment with the lack of timeline or action attached to the First Nations inclusion in the Community Charter, which would provide for the ability for confidential government-to-government negotiations.

City director George Doubt said he didn’t have a problem writing a letter to the province, which seems to be hesitant to come out and say what municipalities and regional districts should do in relation to First Nations governments. He said even without a helpful provincial response, there should be effort on a continued basis to have C3 meetings between Tla’amin, qRD and the city.

“We can see what we can agree on ourselves, and if someone complains, we defend our practice,” said Doubt.

Electoral Area D director Sandy McCormick said it will not be easy to find a balance between openness and transparency and then intergovernmental relations.

“I believe it’s up to us to encourage the province to do that work and come up with a balance to create a framework where we can meet,” said McCormick. “I also agree we should have meetings in any case on the basis of good governmental relations and those should continue.”

Electoral Area C director and board chair Clay Brander said he had been at a conference recently and this is a topic beyond qRD dealing with it. Regional district chief administrative officer Al Radke said there had been a supreme court review of a case in Vancouver that indicated it was perfectly okay to go in camera with First Nations and exclude the public.

Electoral Area E director Andrew Fall said the real crux of the issue is finding a balance point.

“I’m quite certain the province knows what the problem is and it is not willing to solve it,” said Fall. “They are leaving it up to local governments like us to muddle our way and when one steps across the line they’ll figure out the balance point from a legal point of view.

“I want to carry on meeting with Tla’amin Nation, respecting their way of wanting to meet. In terms of the motion, it’s useful to tell the province we are not impressed with them not taking action. They shouldn’t be leaving this to local government.”

Elliott’s motion to write a letter to the government expressing disappointment carried unanimously.

Gisborne then brought forward a motion that the qRD board direct staff to apply for April 5 UBCM community-to-community grant and reach out to Tla’amin and the city to schedule a C3 meeting before July 1.

“There’s a general appetite around the table to meet,” said Gisborne. “This motion is to apply for the grant because there can be funding. We can send the invite [for a C3 meeting] and can meet in camera. This is a way to get the ball rolling.”

Manager of financial services Linda Greenan said there was also a September deadline for the UBCM program, which would provide more time to get an application together.

McCormick suggested splitting Gisborne’s motion in two to consider the grant and the C3 meeting separately. Elliott amended the motion to take the date out of the grant application, so if it couldn’t be submitted by April 5, it could be for September. Elliott’s amendment carried.

Doubt then recommended that the July 1 deadline for conducting a C3 meeting be removed. Gisborne said his hope was that a C3 meeting could be scheduled, since one had not happened since last year. He said if a meeting was held after July 1, it would be more than a year since a C3 meeting had been held.

“Out of respect for collaboration and reconciliation, we should not be waiting so long between meetings,” said Gisborne. “I’m fine with taking the date out but I would be very disappointed if we are not able to meet before July 1.”

Doubt’s amendment also carried, so qRD will direct staff to apply for the UBCM grant, and will reach out to the other local governments to schedule a C3 meeting.

Join the Peak's email list for the top headlines right in your inbox Monday to Friday.