Thousands of extra housing units are expected to be built on the North Shore in the years ahead.

Thousands of extra housing units are expected to be built on the North Shore in the years ahead.

Strip reserve residents of civic vote: Metro

Expected development boom on native land vexes cities



Metro Vancouver is backing a call to redraw municipal boundaries to exclude Indian reserves, a move that would block both aboriginal and non-aboriginal reserve residents from voting or running in future civic elections.

The regional district board endorsed that recommendation Oct. 28 and raised concerns about representation and taxation on reserve lands as First Nations aim to build more housing for non-native residents.

Local cities have no jurisdiction or taxing authority on reserves, said Belcarra Mayor Ralph Drew, adding it’s therefore wrong to continue the “representation without taxation” allowed under the current system.

“There’s a jurisdictional void here that has all kinds of implications,” he said. “We need to ensure full cost recovery and protect the interests of local government taxpayers.”

Tens of thousands of non-aboriginal residents are expected to move into housing developments that will be built on First Nations land in the years ahead, particularly on the North Shore.

The building boom will be lucrative for native bands that are poised to convert their prime real estate into a steady flow of rental income.

But the trend raises issues of fairness.

Non-native reserve residents pay taxes to the First Nation and some of that money flows to neighbouring cities to pay for services, but Drew said the full costs aren’t covered.

And those reserve residents pay no property tax to TransLink or Metro Vancouver – effectively getting a free ride on the broader costs of regional transit and utility services, both of which are rising steadily.

Nor do they contribute to the education system through school property tax.

Such inequities were considered minor when relatively few non-First Nation
residents lived on reserves.
But with their numbers projected to swell to as much as 30,000 on the North Shore alone, some say it’s time for a rethink.

The issue was the subject of a report to Metro from the Lower Mainland Treaty Advisory Committee (LMTAC), which recommended excluding reserves.

One concern is the voting influence non-natives on reserve could wield in the neighbouring municipality even though they’re not taxed directly.
”As that population grows they could be very influential in the outcome of elections and referenda,” Bowen Island Coun. Peter Frinton said.

The 7.5 per cent of West Vancouver voters who live on reserve is projected to climb to as much as 30 per cent of the electorate within 25 years, the LMTAC report said.

It warned on-reserve residents could, in theory, grow to hold the majority of votes for a city council even though they pay no taxes to the city.

Meanwhile, band members are exempt from the taxes their bands levy on non-aboriginal residents, creating yet another case of representation without taxation.

Squamish Nation Chief Gibby Jacob appeared before the Metro board to try to allay fears and urge more dialogue.

“The reports and the comments made about our people are one-sided,” he said.

Harold Calla, an administrator and negotiator with the Squamish Nation, told directors he believes service agreements can be fair and address local cities’ concerns.

“We do not expect the non-aboriginal taxpayer to subsidize those on reserve,” he said.

Calla said it would be “unfortunate and regressive” to deny reserve residents the civic vote.

Unlike band members, non-aboriginals on reserve cannot vote for or be elected to the band councils that govern non-treaty First Nations land, so the proposal would leave them without any local vote.

Negotiated treaties would solve many of the issues arising from the population growth of reserves that remain federally regulated but with amended rules that have opened up more scope for on-reserve development.

The Squamish, however, won’t sign a treaty under the terms currently on offer, Jacob said.
Nor is there any sign of other treaties imminent in the Lower Mainland, where just one has been signed by the Tsawwassen.

Several cities in Metro Vancouver are renegotiating service agreements with local First Nations.

While existing agreements typically cover critical services like water, sewer, fire and policing, they often contain no contributions to softer services reserve residents may use, such as recreation centres and libraries.

Concerns about reserve votes are not an issue in most other provinces, which exclude reserves from local cities.

The Tsaswwassen First Nation ceased to be part of Delta when their treaty was signed, but the TFN gained a seat at the Metro board.

There are 22 Indian reserves within Metro Vancouver and there are at least two each in Vancouver, North Vancouver District, Langley Township and Maple Ridge.

North Shore Outlook

Thousands of extra housing units are expected to be built on the North Shore in the years ahead.

 

 

 

Just Posted

Harrison Hot Springs country singer Todd Richard poses for a photo with Mission firefighters. (Photo/Sarah Plawutski)
VIDEO: Harrison country artist Todd Richard plans for a busy, rockin’ summer

Richard and his band look to live shows as restrictions start to lift

The theme for this year’s Fraser Valley Regional Library Summer Reading Club is “Crack the Case” and Katie Burns, community librarian at the Chilliwack Library, is encouraging people of all ages to sign up. She is seen here at the Chilliwack Library on Friday, June 18, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Crack the case, read, win prizes with FVRL Summer Reading Club

‘Immerse yourself in other worlds and have a bit of fun while you do it,’ says Chilliwack librarian

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

Holger Schwichtenberg and his son Philip talk in the barn of the 150-acre Schwichtenberg farm. This farm is one of many throughout B.C. that support more than 12,500 jobs across the province in the dairy industry. (Contributed Photo/B.C. Dairy Association)
Agassiz dairy farm a model of care for environment, animals, and family

Farm is part of a dairy sector centred in the Fraser Valley, supporting 12,500 jobs province-wide

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

(Black Press Media files)
Burnaby RCMP look for witnesses in hit-and-run that left motorcyclist dead

Investigators believe that the suspect vehicle rear-ended the motorcycle before fleeing the scene

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

Most Read