Skip to content

Local groups seek further dock management plan consultation

The province’s application website indicated the public comment period on shíshálh Nation’s application for a swiya-wide dock management plan (DMP) closed as of Feb. 17.

The public comment period on shíshálh Nation’s application for a swiya-wide dock management plan (DMP) closed as of Feb. 17, according to the province’s application website.

Leading up to that closure, two Coast-based groups representing residents and businesses from within the swiya and beyond urged the province to expand rather than end its consultations on the Nation’s ask to implement new rules for infrastructure on both tide and freshwater moorages.

Discussion event draws 600 attendees

One of those assemblies, the Waterfront Protection Coalition (WPC), held a meeting on the matter in the week before the comment period ended. In a Feb. 16 press release, that group reported more than 600 individuals tuned into that event. The release stated, “that demonstrates the high level of concern on the coast. Private moorage holders constitute a significant segment of Crown Land lease holders, accounting for around 10% of all provincial crown land tenures. This issue is going to get hotter unless the Province wakes up.” It called on Minister of Land, Water, and Resource Stewardship Nathan Cullen “to extend the comment period and meaningfully engage with affected stakeholders."

Speaking with Coast Reporter on Feb. 21, WPC spokesperson Jim Case said that the group has written to the minister twice on this matter, seeking a meeting.  "So far, we have heard nothing," he said. He also indicated the group had reached out to the Nation to request an opportunity meet but has not received a response.

"Our position is, that due to the lack of consultation, at a minimum, the boathouses and the docks that are in question [under the proposed DMP] should be grandfathered and there should be a process where all the stakeholders come together in meaningful dialogue, and we engage the right experts to deliver science, engineering and an environmental perspective that is specific to the issues and the individual areas that the DMP will cover.

"We truly believe that the process that has been taken on by the ministry has been damaging to reconciliation and is dividing the community...Our goal is to start from the beginning and work towards something that will be workable for everyone."

PHARA unable to secure a meeting

Despite numerous requests, the Pender Harbour and Area Residents Association (PHARA) could not secure a meeting with the province to provide updated input on the DMP application. In a Feb. 19 email,  PHARA board member Sean McAllister outlined that “the government made two attempts to meet with us. The first attempt was too early in the process as we need time to study the proposed amendments. The second attempt was a proposal to meet in February. We suggested alternate dates in February due to members of our Board being away and we never heard back from them. The government has never responded to our lawyer's letter."

McAllister summed up the situation, stating, "The public engagement process is completely broken in our view… PHARA has been totally ignored once again by the government. They have not followed their own policy for stakeholder engagement.”

The DMP application has highlighted wider concerns for PHARA. “Concerning the Section 7 agreement they are currently working on Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DRIPA), we can categorically state that we have had no engagement on those issues or the proposed Land Act amendments. The 22 questions posed to them in our letter of Jan. 18, 2022 remain unanswered. This is notwithstanding that we have been named by the government as one of the parties they intend to consult, as required by the Act.

“There are also serious constitutional issues arising from the implementation of UNDRIP (United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples) in this Province. We are on the cutting edge of these issues and yet the government simply ignores us.”

The province opened the public comment period on the DMP application on Nov. 23, 2023.  Its representatives along with a representatives of the Nation attended a Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) board meeting on Nov. 30 in Sechelt to provide an application overview.  That event drew over 100 in-person public attendees in addition to a large virtual audience, with many expressing concerns around the proposed new regulations, which would impose size limits in docks and disallow boat house structures on private moorages.

SCRD communications manager Aidan Buckley told Coast Reporter on Feb. 17 that the local government is aware of community concerns related to the DMP and is in contact with the province on the matter. He was unable to provide specifics on actions being pursued.

The shíshálh Nation declined to comment on its application or the review process when contacted.