Final Agreement Reached to Protect B.C.’s Great Bear Rain Forest

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The 20-year battle to protect the Great Bear Rainforest – the largest coastal temperate rainforest on the planet – is over, with the B.C. government announcement on Monday of an agreement with environmentalists, forest companies and First Nations.

The deal, which will be enshrined in legislation this spring, applies to a stretch of 6.4 million hectares of the coast from the north of Vancouver Island to the Alaska Panhandle. It promises to protect 85 per cent of the region’s old-growth forests, with logging in the remaining 15 per cent subject to the most stringent commercial logging standards in North America.

“I’m pleased to announce we have reached this landmark agreement,” B.C. Premier Christy Clark told a news conference in Vancouver. “We celebrate what hard work, tenacity and strength of purpose can achieve when we work together.”

Representatives for the four partners gathered for a ceremony in the Heiltsuk community of Bella Bella on Friday to mark the completion of an accord that reaches far beyond the original objectives of protecting ancient forests and the home of the unique white-furred black bear known as the Spirit Bear.

The final agreement also recognizes aboriginal rights to shared decision-making and improves economic opportunities for the 26 First Nations that reside in the region with a greater share of timber rights and $15-million from the province.

In Bella Bella’s school gymnasium, hereditary chiefs wearing their regalia of button blankets and ermine-trimmed headdresses danced and a chorus of children sang to welcome Premier Clark and the chief architects of the deal.

“This is a singular place – a gift – for us to preserve and this is the biggest statement we’ve ever made about our commitment to that,” Ms. Clark said in an interview after a short hike through the forest to the edge of an estuary. “To me, it’s an expression of our collective love of this land and this coast.”

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Community Bulletin – Youth Centre

Building a new youth centre has been a priority for many years. We have much gratitude for the resources attained to build it. Our executive is working towards a interagency agreement so all our departments with children and youth programs can use it. The Youth Centre will be opened by October 1. With a grand opening to follow later.

Thank you, for your support to the youth and for your patience. We are excited to open the centre and apologize for the time these tasks have taken.

HTC Band Admin

Cypress will manage the fish plant effective immediately, until October 31, 2015 or when the Fall season ends.

Heiltsuk Nation,

On April 30, 2015, Heiltsuk Tribal Council held a duly convened meeting and a Band Council Resolution was signed off to enter into negotiations and develop an agreement with Cypress for their application for a long term joint venture to manage our Fish Plant.   A timeline of 40 days has been set out to complete these negotiations for this application, with a 9 June, 2015 deadline.   With salmon season approaching, a short term agreement has been reached.   Cypress will manage the fish plant effective immediately, until October 31, 2015 or when the Fall season ends.

Terms of references for these negotiations are being developed for an Agreement in Principle for the operations of the fish plant which will include timelines, communication strategy, financial information, business plan, confidentiality, etc.   John Bolton (Marine Portfolio Holder) and Leona Humchitt (Economic Development Portfolio Holder) have been appointed as facilitators on behalf of HTC to work with Roger Nopper, HTC Executive Director and Acting Chief Economic Development Officer for HEDC, Saphire Humchitt, HTC Chief Financial Officer and HTC Legal Counsel; and representatives from the Heiltsuk Holdings Board and the HEDC Natural Resources Operating Board to negotiate with representatives from Cypress on developing an Agreement for the long-term use of the Fish Plant.

Although a great deal of work needs to be done in a short period of time, HTC is confident that an Agreement in Principle will be successfully developed.