Biosolids agreement signed

After months and months of protests and occupations, the provincial government and five Nicola Valley First Nations chiefs have signed an agreement regarding the dumping of biosolids in the region.

The parties have agreed to a Collaborative Engagement Protocol which opens the door for First Nations oversight and participation in a scientific review of biosolids in the region.

“We’re pleased that the province finally agreed to seriously engage with us on this issue,” says Chief Aaron Sam of the Lower Nicola Indian Band.

“We’ve repeatedly told the province that the use of biosolids in our territories poses a serious threat to the health of our communities and to our Title and Rights. The Protocol is a positive step towards ensuring that those concerns are properly addressed.”

The protocol establishes a constructive, government-to-government joint panel review to address concerns related to potential impacts of biosolids on human health, wildlife and the environment, as well as First Nations Aboriginal title and rights.

The panel review will be followed by government-to-government discussions aimed at achieving mutually-acceptable solutions to concerns related to the use of biosolids in the Nicola Valley.

“This is a constructive process to tackle a challenging problem in the Nicola Valley. We’ve worked hard to find a way forward for the benefit of all residents in the region,” says environment minister Mary Polak.

The Nicola Valley First Nations collectively issued a moratorium on the dumping of biosolids in their territories in April 2015 and called on the province to enter into a collaborative process to gather information and address impacts of the use of biosolids.

“The province should have consulted us and properly assessed the effects of biosolids before allowing this kind of activity in the first place,” says Chief Marcel Shackelly of the Nooaitch Indian Band.

“We’re hopeful that we can now resolve this issue in a way that is respectful of our title and rights. In the meantime, we expect that the Province will respect our moratorium and that no further dumping will be allowed while this process takes place.”

From the province, the agreement was signed by Fraser-Nicola MLA Jackie Tegart, Environment Minister Mary Polak and Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Minister John Rustad.

First Nations leaders signing include Lower Nicola Indian Band Chief Aaron Sam, Nooaitch Indian Band Chief Marcel Shackelly, Upper Nicola Indian Band Chief Harvey McLeod, Shackan Indian Band Chief Percy Joe and Coldwater Indian Band Chief Lee Spahan.

The First Nations and the Province are expected to complete the engagement process by the winter of 2015. 

For past stories on this topic, click here. 


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