UBCM Renews MOU with MARR

 The 2015 UBCM pre-conference workshop “Moving Forward with First Nations” focused on agreements and partnerships. To open the session, John Rustad, Minister of Aboriginal Relations & Reconciliation; UBCM President Sav Dhaliwal, and First Nations Relations Committee Chair Murry Krause formally renewed the MOU on Local Government Participation in the New Relationship with First Nations.

The MOU is a three-year agreement that recognizes local governments as a unique interest in negotiations with First Nations, and acknowledges local governments as respected advisors to the Province. It also represents a joint commitment by both parties to ongoing consultation and information sharing.

“This agreement ensures fulsome engagement and dialogue as we continue to walk this path together”, commented President Dhaliwal, as he addressed the over 200 delegates in attendance at the session.

MOU implementation will be a topic of discussion at an upcoming MARR/UBCM Joint Staff Working Group meeting.

The text of the MOU is the following:

This Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) replaces three previously signed MOUs and two supporting Protocol Agreements which dealt with local government participation in treaty negotiations and other activities under the Province’s New Relationship with First Nations, and reflects the spirit and intent of those commitments.

THE PARTIES:

The parties to this MOU are:

  • The Province of British Columbia (the Province) as represented by the Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation (MARR); and
  • The Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) representing all municipalities and regional districts of British Columbia, as well as several post-treaty First Nations.

WHEREAS:

The Parties agree that court decisions have resulted in changes to the way the Crown consults with First Nations with respect to decisions made by the Crown that have the potential to impact Aboriginal rights and title.

The Parties acknowledge that the Province and B.C. First Nations organizations are working together to develop new government-to-government relationships to improve the process of decision-making as it relates to land, resources, social, and economic development.

The Parties recognize that local government jurisdictions may be affected by the negotiation of land, resource and economic development agreements with First Nations. The Parties accept that local government constitutes a unique and special interest in the negotiation of a range of agreements with First Nations including modern treaties and non-treaty land, resource and economic development arrangements.

The Parties acknowledge that local governments endeavour to develop positive working relationships with First Nations neighbours, fostering relationships built on the principles of honesty and respect. This MOU encourages local governments and First Nations to communicate and inform each other about matters of mutual interest.

THEREFORE:

This MOU reflects the development of the relationship between the Parties in response to the evolution of the treaty process and progress made since the New Relationship vision document was developed in 2005, as well as subsequent legal developments. It defines a renewed commitment by the Parties to:

  • continue a process for local government participation in the negotiation and implementation of treaties;
  • consult and exchange information with local governments on other agreements outside the B.C. treaty process; and
  • consult on matters of mutual interest including those matters that will impact local government jurisdiction.

TOPICS

The Province will share information, consider local government interests and seek advice on matters affecting local government jurisdiction including but not limited to the following:

  • Land management and land use planning
  • Land selection
  • Dispute resolution
  • Property taxation
  • Environmental assessment and protection
  • Local government access to resources for public purposes and access to adjacent lands
  • Servicing arrangements
  • Regulatory arrangements
  • Governmental relations
  • Economic development
  • Reconciliation efforts and initiatives

CONSULTATION AND INFORMATION SHARING PRINCIPLES

The Parties agree to the following principles governing consultation and information sharing:

  • flexibility for local government to identify and represent their interests in a way that they consider appropriate to their local circumstances;
  • early notice to local government of a matter that may affect local government jurisdiction;
  • sufficient information early on and reasonable time for local government to document their interests and views and to provide advice to provincial negotiators and/or provincial representatives;
  • due consideration of local government interests, views and advice;
  • a response from provincial negotiators/representatives on how local government advice was used; and
  • ongoing information exchange between the Province and local government.

DEFINITIONS

The following definitions cover the types of agreements referred to in this MOU:

Treaty: a comprehensive agreement negotiated among B.C., Canada and a First Nation under the B.C. Treaty Commission process that is a full and formal expression of reconciliation between First Nations and the Crown.

Treaty Related Measure (TRM): a temporary arrangement negotiated by B.C., Canada and a First Nation at a negotiation table that is tied directly to treaty topics under negotiation. They are cost-shared between Canada and the Province.

Incremental Treaty Agreement (ITA): a legally- binding, longer term arrangement negotiated at a treaty negotiation table.

An ITA permits the parties to conclude agreements on topics typically addressed under treaty negotiations and to implement the agreement in advance of a final treaty.

Other Agreements: refers to social, land, resource or economic development agreements negotiated between a First Nation and the Province outside the B.C. treaty process that have the potential to impact local government.

ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES RESPECTING TREATY NEGOTIATIONS, TREATY-RELATED MEASURES, INCREMENTAL TREATY AGREEMENTS, AND TREATY INTERIM  MEASURES

The Province

Structure: The Chief Negotiator leads the provincial negotiating team in all aspects of the negotiations and provides direction to all team members.

Information: Provincial negotiators will, in a timely manner, provide their local government representative with table-specific agendas, work plans, documents for discussion and other relevant information.

Consultation: Provincial negotiators will consult and exchange information in a timely manner with potentially impacted local governments on issues considered important by either the Province or the local government, according to the consultation principles stated in this MOU.

Side Tables: Where the local government and First Nation agree, the provincial negotiators will undertake to establish a side table or working group for local government and the First Nation to negotiate and come to agreement on issues related to the future local government-First Nation relationship. The provincial negotiators will give full and fair consideration to results produced and agreements reached by these tables.

Low Activity Tables: Where the level of activity at a treaty table is low, the provincial negotiators will keep local government representatives informed of any developments at the table through regular information updates and exchanges.

Local Government

Role: Local government representatives are members and respected advisors on provincial treaty negotiation teams until a negotiation is concluded and the treaty takes effect.

Treaty Implementation: Prior to the effective date, local government and the Province will discuss local government involvement in treaty implementation and make every effort to come to an agreement that identifies the significant issues of interest to local government and how local government will be involved/informed during the implementation of these issues.

On the effective date, the First Nation and neighbouring local governments will deal directly with each other.

Local governments and the First Nation will work together to develop and build their relationship.

Attendance: Local government representatives will have the opportunity to attend treaty-related discussions and negotiations including main tables, side tables, working groups and bilateral meetings.

Interests: Local government representatives are responsible for defining and representing their interests in matters related to negotiations and for sharing these interests and other relevant information with the provincial negotiating team.

Providing advice: Local government representatives will engage in discussions and contribute advice on all matters concerning the future local government-First Nation relationship, including engagement on overall treaty process changes.

Structure: Within the area defined by a First Nation’s Statement of Intent, local governments will collectively determine how they will be organized to participate in a negotiation – e.g. as an alternate local government structure – and will advise the appropriate provincial negotiator of their chosen structure as well as the primary contact(s).

Involvement: Based on their interests and the level of activity at the specific treaty table, local governments may determine the level to which they wish to be involved ranging from receiving information to participation at meetings and providing advice.

Confidentiality: Participating local government representatives are subject to any and all confidentiality rules and practices that apply to a negotiation. They may, after consultation with the lead provincial negotiator, share confidential information with their respective councils and regional district boards, other local governments, and with UBCM on an in-camera basis.

ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES RESPECTING OTHER AGREEMENTS

The Province

The Province will initiate contact with a local government when:

  • an agreement with a First Nation on a matter relating to land, resources or economic development will be negotiated; and
  • the outcome of negotiations will affect the local government’s jurisdiction, operations or provision of services.

The Province will consult and exchange information in a timely manner with the local government according to the consultation and information sharing principles stated in this MOU.

The Province and the local government will jointly determine the level of the local government’s involvement ranging from receiving information to participation at meetings and providing advice.

Local Government

Local governments will serve as respected advisors to the Province in negotiations that affect their interests.

Based on their interests and the level of activity of a negotiation, local governments and the Province will jointly determine the level of involvement ranging from receiving information to participation at meetings and providing advice.

Local governments are responsible for defining and sharing their interests and other relevant information with the Province, and will advise the Province how their interests may be addressed.

Local government representatives are subject to any and all confidentiality rules and practices that apply to a negotiation. They may, after consultation with the Province, share confidential information with their respective councils and regional district boards, other local governments, or local government structures, and with UBCM on an in-camera basis.

COMMUNICATION BETWEEN THE PROVINCE AND THE UBCM

The Province will share information with UBCM and/or a body designated by the UBCM on the Province’s approaches to the development of non-treaty initiatives under the New Relationship. The Parties will work together on identifying the appropriate avenues for this information sharing to ensure clear, and full understanding of the processes and activities underway.

The Province will provide UBCM with:

  • a list of all concluded agreements with First Nations updated semi-annually; and
  • a current list of provincial government contacts updated semi-annually.

UBCM will monitor the progress of provincial notification and consultation with local governments on relevant agreements with First Nations.

REVIEW

This MOU will be reviewed three years from the date of signing unless the Parties jointly agree to an earlier review.

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