The announcement that TimberWest’s TFL near Duncan was sold to Surrey-based Teal-Jones Group is touted as a success for the new Liberal forest policies. In fact, it is just the beginning in what may amount to another protracted battle with BC First Nations.
In the Vancouver Sun, Teal-Jones principle Dick Jones”commend[ed] the province for the policy changes…Tenure transfers are not as onerous on the buyer now.”
That is for sure!!! The new provincial forest changes – implemented to undermine recent court victories encumbering tenure by Haida, Gitxsan, Gitanyow and others – allow forest companies to transfer tenures without government approval. This was a thinly veiled attempt to shield tenure decisions from First Nations legal intervention.
It will not go unchallenged. A number of First Nations are preparing to challenge these legislative changes to prevent the undermining of court imposed requirements that could invalidate the transfer of logging tenure that occur without consultation or accommodation of affected First Nations.
Dogwood Initiative sent letters to all affected First Nations informing them of the potential impacts on this transfer and suggesting draft language to be inserted into letters to TimberWest to ensure that all potential purchasers were aware of the Aboriginal Title and Rights encumbrances attached to the tenure.
We expect the announced sale to be the beginning, not the end of the story.