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Historic land-title ruling creates 'uncertainty' for development, report says

OTTAWA - A new report says a Supreme Court judgment that recognized part of central British Columbia as aboriginal title land will cast a cloud of uncertainty over all current and future development projects in the province.

The Fraser Institute published a paper today that says the Tsilhqot'in ruling could suspend or shut down projects that are already underway on land where aboriginal title has been claimed.

The paper says that's because the Supreme Court judgment clearly says the need for consent from First Nations to pursue development applies to all future aboriginal title lands.

The Supreme Court's unanimous decision on the Tsilhqot'in case recognized, for the first time in Canada, aboriginal title to a specific tract of land and set a historic precedent affecting resource rights.

The Tsilhqot'in case essentially made it easier for First Nations to establish title over lands that were regularly used for hunting, fishing and other activities prior to contact with Europeans.

The decision places a greater burden on governments to justify economic development on aboriginal land.

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