Development and temporary use permit applicants may wait longer for approvals as a result of the recently-signed protocol agreement between the District of Sicamous and the Splatsin First Nation.
At a committee of the whole meeting, district community planner Mike Marrs stated staff is beginning to see the results of the June 20 agreement and have made collaboration with the band office a priority.
“We have done that with the last few projects that we’re dealing with. It will slow us down a bit… but I think it’s going to work well,” said Marrs.
“That will be hit and miss – it really will depend on what we have proceeding and where it’s located.”
He noted that he has one application for a temporary use permit where the band is seeking permission from the applicant to conduct some historical research on the subject property prior to permit approval.
Coun. Charlotte Hutchinson asked what rights the band has regarding private property.
Marrs, in response, said he understands where the band is coming from, that they have historical land claims that are important to them, and they want to have that input on those lands.
Regarding the TUP application, Marrs said the property already has a seasonal-use development on it.
“Frankly, they’ve been doing it for a number of years – they’re just getting around to legalizing what they’re doing.”
“We agreed to keep each other in the loop. How far can this go?” pressed Hutchinson, to which Marrs replied it could get quite complicated.
Regardless, Marrs said he is supportive of the agreement, as is Coun. Terry Rysz.
“I think this is still a proactive way to eliminate historical resistance that we’ve had with First Nations,” said Rysz.
Mayor Darrell Trouton said the agreement also speaks to signatories not holding up each other’s business, and argued that referrals to the Splatsin be treated as referrals to other government agencies in terms of specified response times.
“If they find something else, maybe then they have jurisdiction to hold us up a little bit,” said Trouton.
“But, ultimately, I think we should take the stand that we give everybody a reasonable amount of time with a timeline and, if they don’t respond, they need to know we’ll be moving forward.”
Marrs said he agrees, and that this is what is typically done.
However, with the protocol agreement, Marrs suggested meetings between district staff and their counterparts at the band office are in order to discuss the handling of smaller or existing applications.
“I certainly can see new developments having to go through the more extensive review with them,” said Marrs.
“But existing projects or any existing work that’s been through the process prior to – and I’m thinking in particular of Old Town Bay – I do have some concern there.”