Skip to content

DMP comment period extended to Feb. 16 – province provides no further details

While no reasons for the adjustment were provided when the input date was changed or in the days that followed, a range of parties with plans to ask the province for the extension sent details on their requests to Coast Reporter.
Proposed mapping for shíshálh swiya Dock Management Plan

Public commenting remains open for proposed changes to the swiya dock management plan (DMP). 

Jan. 12, the day public input was to close on the shíshálh Nation’s DMP application, the province extended the commenting time frame. Notice of a new cut-off date, Feb. 16, has been posted to the province’s regional crown land initiatives webpage.

If approved, the DMP would become provincial policy regulating infrastructure (i.e. docks, floats, boathouses) allowed on both salt and fresh water moorages throughout the traditional territory of the Nation.

Multiple calls for comment date extension

While no reasons for the adjustment were provided when the input date was changed or in the days that followed, a range of parties with plans to ask the province for the extension sent details on their requests to Coast Reporter. The days around Jan. 12 saw both those supporting and those with major concerns about the proposed DMP detailing their views on the importance of giving British Columbians more time to respond.

The Sunshine Coast Regional District Board, issued one of the first public calls for a comment period extension on Nov. 30. It endorsed a motion to ask that consultation remain open until mid-May, 2024 and followed up with the province in writing on Dec. 21.  But SCRD officials have yet to hear back from Victoria about that request. SCRD communications manager Aidan Buckley told Coast Reporter that the board chair was made aware of the extension by a reporter who had seen the information posted on Jan. 12 and then by senior staff.  

On its website, the Pender Harbour and Area Residents Association (PHARA) claimed its efforts deserved partial credit in the province’s decision to add more time for public comment. On Jan. 10 a law firm representing PHARA sent a letter to Minister of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship Nathan Cullen. The letter included a call for a consultation period extension. In addition, an ask was made for a meeting, so that “proposed amendments can be the subject of meaningful discussion." The letter asserts that there are “significant administrative law problems” in respect to the province’s common law obligations under the Land Act. It goes on to state, “we also hold concerns about potential improper sub-delegation of statutory decision making powers to the sishalh (sic) Nation, and a failure of the government to respect the Supreme Court of Canada’s directions related to the limits of the Crown’s duty to consult Indigenous groups."

The leader of the opposition in the BC legislature, BC United Party’s Kevin Falcon took to Facebook on Jan. 11, with a video in which he requested the DMP comment period be extended until “at least September." In that, he called the province’s public consultation period on the matter “ridiculous” and in his closing statement said, “Should I become the next Premier of the province, I am gonna reverse this nonsense and get back to properly consulting people, properly consulting First Nations and making sure that we come up with solutions that listen to sound science and make sure that the public is involved before we make decisions that really impact our livelihoods."

The Waterfront Protection Coalition, volunteers representing residents and businesses from areas that are currently and potentially impacted by the DMP, shared its views on comment timing in an email dated Jan. 9. That communication contained a statement that, “The Ministry is trying to ram this through without proper consultation or due process evidenced by mandating a January 12 deadline for input; a deadline far too short in order to properly inform those who will be impacted or allow for sufficient awareness to collect a meaningful number of responses." It also raised the concern that “there has not been a proper consultation process with all stakeholders” and that the province was “foisting this on thousands of residents and businesses."

Coast Reporter also received a reach out from Camilla Berry, an individual in support of many of the aspects of the Nation’s application. She also identified what she viewed as benefits in extending and expanding public engagement on review of the DMP application. In a Jan. 8 email she wrote, “I sincerely hope the province, with the help of local governments comes up with a more robust communications strategy."

The Nation declined to provide Coast Reporter with its comment on the application review process on Jan. 10 and has not updated that position since.

How to provide input on the DMP draft

To share your views or questions about the swiya-wide DMP application, the province advises on its website that “staff will be monitoring comments received through the website and will provide additional clarity and answers to common questions. Comments received via email or phone call will not be reviewed.” 

Input can be submitted via a link on the province’s Application, Comment and Reasons for Decisions webpage, which also contains links to background documents on the matter.