Town of Ladysmith and Stz’uminus First Nation sign protocol

Co-operation Protocol is the next step in strengthening the relationship between the two communities.

Last week, the Town of Ladysmith and the Stz’uminus First Nation took another step to strengthen their commitment to working together by signing a Co-operation Protocol.

The two communities signed the protocol July 3, and its purpose is “to continue to develop the co-operative relationship that exists between the communities and form an agreement to pursue initiatives of common interest.”

In announcing the signing at the July 3 council meeting, Mayor Rob Hutchins explained this is one of two documents called for in the renewed Community Accord that the Town and Stz’uminus First Nation signed May 25.

The other document called for in the Community Accord is a Memorandum of Understanding, which Hutchins hopes will come forward in the next 30 days.

The objectives of the Co-operation Protocol are to establish an effective government-to-government working relationship between the communities and other agencies, promote efficiency and effectiveness in the working relationship between the communities, establish an ongoing policy-level and technical-level dialogue, establish information-sharing and co-operative planning processes, establish a consultation process, and help the communities secure the financial resources necessary to support their participation in this protocol and the projects they undertake.

Pursuant to this protocol, the Town of Ladysmith and Stz’uminus First Nation will work together to identify and undertake projects that will provide social, economic and environmental benefits to both communities.

They will also work to enhance awareness of the communities’ history and culture so it may be more effectively reflected in their activities.

They will plan, manage and use lands and resources so that their use respects aboriginal interests, as well as general community interests. The communities will also build good governance structures, processes and procedures and share public administration capacity where it is feasible.

A Steering Committee with representatives from the Town and from Stz’uminus will be established to implement the protocol.

The Town and Stz’uminus First Nation have agreed upon a number of joint initiatives for further discussion. These include approval of the Liquid Waste Management Plan; a water/sewer services agreement for IR 12 (Oyster Bay) and IR 13 (Shell Beach); a Holland Lake-Stocking Lake Pipeline Agreement; watershed management; operational services, such as building inspection and water meter reading; boundary extension; cleaning up the Ladysmith Harbour; a DL 651 (the Dog Patch) partnership; uniform bylaws regarding the protection of environment if desired; exploring mutual funding opportunities; Official Community Plan consultation; development of south Ladysmith Stz’uminus  land; an Incremental Treaty Process; Waste Water Treatment Plant capacity; the inclusion of First Nations heritage and culture; and emergency preparedness.

Coun. Steve Arnett noted that this protocol is “historic,” and he thanked Hutchins for his leadership.

“This is truly a joint leadership, and my hat goes off to the chief and council of the Stz’uminus First Nation,” replied Hutchins. “We have accomplished more in the last year and particularly within the last six months, I think, than we had accomplished in decades before.”