Wednesday, July 17, 2013

SFN Withdraws From Dam Review



Snuneymuxw First Nation Withdraws from 30 Day Colliery Dam Process
Snuneymuxw First Nation has made the decision to withdraw from the 30 day Colliery Dam engagement process that began last week as a result of a resolution passed by City Council. The reason for the withdrawal is a number of serious concerns that have become evident over the last few days regarding the approach of City of Nanaimo staff to the engagement process.

Early this week Snuneymuxw received disturbing reports that city staff were putting forward through phone calls and emails that anyone who participates in the 30 day process including City Council, Snuneymuxw, as well as the facilitator may have significant liability by virtue of participating. These actions raise serious red-flags about whether the city staff is seriously committed to exhausting all possible options and considerations as directed by the Council resolution. Snuneymuxw legal advice received yesterday has made it clear that the comments of City staff regarding liability are unfounded.

"I became seriously concerned on Monday as a result of the reports we were hearing from the facilitator about comments made by City staff. These concerns were compounded by emails sent by the City," said Chief Douglas White III of the Snuneymuxw First Nation. "As a result Snuneymuxw as well as the facilitator made numerous approaches to city staff over the last 48 hours to see if an exhaustive review of all possible options and considerations was going to take place. Despite our best efforts, and those of the facilitator, it is now clear to us it isn't and this has been confirmed in writing to the facilitator," added Chief White.

Snuneymuxw understands that the facilitator will also be withdrawing from participation in the process. Snuneymuxw thanks Katherine Gordon for her diligent, professional, and extensive efforts on this matter in a very short timeframe.

The City Council resolution of July 8 states that the process would be one "exhausting all possible options and considerations before awarding a contract for the removal of the Colliery Dams." An email dated today from city staff suggests they have done all the work they are going to do, and states that "There is no work being done to revisit, re-assess or confirm the information on other options." When Snuneymuxw asked senior City staff in a recent meeting if staff had an open mind regarding options, the reply received was that they had already made their recommendation and were standing by it.

"In our view the process committed to by the City Council resolution is not being implemented. For the purposes of full transparency and openness we decided we should inform the public of this immediately," said Chief White. "Given what has transpired, it does not seem there will be a real engagement between Snuneymuxw and the City as was contemplated last week. The citizens of Nanaimo need to know this," said Chief White III.

Snuneymuxw continues to be concerned about the Chase River fishery. Proper consideration of fisheries impacts is still yet to take place.

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