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Chair calls for greater SCRD involvement in dock management plan

'The request is sent on behalf of our constituents as the swiya dock management plan is a Province/shishalh Nation engagement, not an SCRD engagement,' CAO explains
SCRD Board Chair Leonard Lee at the SCRD offices in November 2023.

The Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) has formally requested an extension for the shíshálh swiya dock management plan (DMP) comment period. 

The correspondence, addressed to Minister of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship Nathan Cullen from SCRD board chair Leonard Lee, was sent the third week of December and requested a comment period extension to May 15, according to SCRD chief administrative officer Dean McKinley.

“The request is sent on behalf of our constituents as the swiya dock management plan is a Province/shíshálh Nation engagement, not an SCRD engagement," McKinley wrote in a Dec. 23 email. "The Provincial team is now well aware of the concerns of Board members (especially the Chair/Pender Harbour area director Lee) and the Board is hopeful the Province will further extend the period to allow for members of the public to have more time to review the plan, consider the potential implications and provide meaningful feedback."

As of Jan. 2, the DMP input cutoff date (Crown Land File: #2412772) is noted as Jan. 12 on the province's application website. Provincial media staff have not responded to Coast Reporter’s inquiries on when the SCRD’s request for the comment period extension is to be considered.

The DMP application, if approved, would see multiple adjustments to rules for infrastructure on both tide and freshwater moorage sites throughout areas within the traditional territory of the First Nation. Since 2018, previous iterations of a DMP have been in place for tidewater areas of Pender Harbour. 

During a Nov. 30 presentation to the SCRD board, shíshálh Nation and provincial consultants announced a comment period extension into 2024 from an original closing date of Dec. 22. At that meeting, the board resolved to ask for the further comment period extension to May.

DMP proposals raise concerns 

In his column in the January 2024 Harbour Spiel, Lee expressed concerns about the DMP's development and application process. "This is the fourth version of the DMP released without public consultation, which is not acceptable because everyone must be involved to achieve public acceptance. It’s long past time the province involved the SCRD in the DMP. They ignored their 2021 memorandum of understanding assenting to allow local government participation in negotiation and implementation of agreements," he wrote.

The Pender Harbour and Area Residents Association's website calls the Nation's new DMP application "ill-thought and overly onerous." The post goes on to state, "As the new proposals will affect most of the Sunshine Coast, we are forming a broader group called the Sunshine Coast Dock Management Committee, and will be working with a number of other community groups, commercial operators, yacht clubs and others who will be affected by the proposed amendments. While we don’t expect a significant turnaround to these proposals, despite their lack of the most basic of common sense, we now feel our only option is to seek legal counsel to fight these changes. In the near future, we may be asking the community for support of this challenge."