While city council will hold off sending letters to government opposing the proposed Dasiqox Tribal Park in the Chilcotin until it meets with First Nations leaders, Mayor Walt Cobb won’t wait.
Cobb said he and Cariboo Regional District Area K director Betty Anderson decided Thursday they will send letters opposing the park to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Premier Christy Clark and several federal and provincial ministers.
The letters will go out Monday and both will be acting independently, Cobb said.
At Tuesday evening’s regular meeting, council was asked to endorse their letter which opposes the proposed 300,000 hectare tribal park, but after hearing from Xeni Gwet’in Chief Roger William and Yunesit’in Chief Russell Myers Ross, council agreed to wait until they meet with them.
Anderson appeared as a delegate, but said she was acting independently of the CRD.
She told council she has heard concerns from First Nations and non-First Nations who feel intimidated to speak out against the tribal park or in favour of logging and mining in the region.
“I see no need for more parks and am very concerned about the resources base affected, including the area of the proposed Prosperity Mine,” Anderson told council. “ I believe this is the main reason for the desire to form the Tribal Park, in order to stop the mine in particular, as well as logging.”
There are already five parks in the immediate area and at least two protected areas, Anderson and Cobb noted in their letter.
“There is also the Xeni Gwet’in Title area announced last year that virtually eliminates any economic activity in the area, and if this park proceeds it will further alienate any productive resource land,” they wrote.
William and Myers-Ross encouraged city council to meet with them before sending off any letters.
“Some of the things in the letter are not factual,” Myers Ross told council. “The intent of the park is how to make an economic livelihood and make sure all our interests are taken care of.”
As the two communities closest to the area, they want more say on how things are managed in the region, he explained.
He also stressed that nothing has been implemented yet as far as the park goes.
Last October the park was announced with the intent to let people know that it was being worked on, he said.
“We are intent to meet with anyone who has interests,” Myers-Ross said.
William said there is a tribal park on Meares Island near Tofino where First Nations and non-First Nations work together.
“We don’t want to stop economics, but we want to work with companies and have a say,” he told council.
First Nations want to be involved in economic development for the whole Chilcotin with everyone working together, William said, adding it is a myth that title lands will cut off economic development.
Both chiefs said so far the tribal park has not been recognized by both levels of government.
Council voted to defer signing the letter for six weeks.
Before the vote Cobb said it is huge for everyone not knowing what a tribal park is and that he did not think the city could siat to voice concerns.