The proposed development on Hornby Island is near the ferry terminal. Image, Google maps

Islands Trust hopes to avoid repeat of Hornby burial site dispute

Its plan includes steps such as heritage mapping to preserve Indigenous heritage sites

  • Mar. 31, 2021 12:00 a.m.

The authority that oversees zoning on Hornby Island hopes its strategic plan will prevent repeats of the current confusion surrounding a development in the small community.

While Hornby is in the Comox Valley Regional District, the Islands’ Trust, a federation of communities on the islands between the Lower Mainland and southern Vancouver Island, oversees zoning.

It issued a statement in response to the work stoppage at the site of the Thatch Pub near the ferry terminal on Hornby after some ancestral remains of an Indigenous child were found. Various stakeholders are currently discussing next steps.

“The Islands Trust is deeply concerned and saddened by the disturbance of an ancestral loved one on Hornby Island and how this impacts First Nation communities, especially the K’ómoks and Tla’amin First Nations,” a statement released March 29 said.

RELATED STORY: Work stops at Hornby site after human remains found

K’ómoks First Nation said it had no issue with the owner but with the province and Islands Trust after it expressed concerns in mid-2020 about the site. In early 2020, as the Islands Trust statement notes, the developer had received an alteration permit after applying to the archaeology branch of the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD).

Islands Trust clarified that zoning for the site, which permits a new pub, restaurant and up to 15 townhouse units, was approved in 2014.

“At that time, Islands Trust had not yet begun reviews to align official community plans, policies, or zoning with a recognition of reconciliation, nor the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” the statement said.

The local trust committee (LTC) for Islands Trust had received a development permit application to demolish the old buildings and construct new ones in late 2019, and the LTC issued the development permit and a siting and use permit later in 2020 as the proposal met existing zoning guidelines.

While the parties sort out how to handle the current situation at the pub site, the Islands Trust council is hoping its strategic plan will help protect potential cultural and heritage sites in the future. The plan includes a strategy to develop heritage overlay mapping and heritage regulatory bylaws. Its 2021/22 budget includes $55,000 for cultural heritage overlay mapping that will aid local trust committee and island municipality efforts to designate these heritage conservation areas under the Local Government Act.

Islands Trust said these moves are part of its commitment to reconciliation.

“Islands Trust is guided by the principles of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action, the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and is reviewing its policies and processes to align them to the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act. For the last two years, Islands Trust has been engaging with First Nations within the Islands Trust Area to amend its policies and processes,” the statement said in its conclusion.

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Comox Valley Record