Signed AIP on Bear Mountain

Signed AIP on Bear Mountain

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December 7, 2006

From Wasase: Please find attached copies of documents regarding Bear Mountain.

The first part is a Nov 21st working draft, and the second part is the actual AIP from Nov 24th, signed by all parties except the Province.

This is to prove false the statements by the signatories and the RCMP mediator Const. Brewer, reported in the media, that no such Agreement existed and that the facts presented were only “discussion notes”.

Signed Agreement in Principle – Bear Mountain

In the News: Langford Mayor Stew Young, local First Nations and Bear Mountain Resort developers are taking a gamble a First Nations casino will smooth the bumps on Skirt Mountain.The proposal for a small destination casino at the golf resort is contained in an agreement Young said has been initialled by the municipality, the developer and First Nations who have been meeting for the past two weeks to try to resolve their differences. The proposals will now be put forward to the province.

“They were good meetings,” Young said yesterday. “Now it’s just a matter of how much the province will help move this forward. If we can partner with Bear Mountain and First Nations and if the province facilitates this economic development, it’s a win-win situation.”

Officials at B.C.’s Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation referred calls on the matter yesterday to RCMP Sgt. John Brewer, an officer specializing in aboriginal relations. Brewer has been mediating discussions between the developer, First Nations and other players regarding a dispute last month over damage to a sacred native cave near the resort on Skirt Mountain.

Yesterday, Brewer denied that a deal has been reached.

“Nothing has been agreed to,” he said.

Brewer said a purported copy of the deal, which was e-mailed to the Times Colonist, is actually a list of “discussion items” from one of the first meetings. The list makes several references to the development of a casino.

“I recognize some of those from the talks,” he said. “Those were obviously just items that were thrown out for discussion.”

The dispute flared last month when First Nations rallied at the resort to protest damage to a nearby sacred cave and the draining of a subterranean lake. The protest ended when both sides declared a two-week truce to work out their differences.

Brewer said the parties had hoped to announce an agreement by yesterday’s deadline, but bad weather forced the cancellation of a number of meetings. He said talks are expected to resume early next week.

But according to Young, if the province approves a casino licence, an agreement will be put in place to share revenues with First Nations and nearby municipalities.

“This is a way to help First Nations find other ways and means of helping their people in a private sector setting,” he said.

“Finding economic development for First Nations is going to make relationships better. It’s going to make them feel part of the community. First Nations are our neighbours, just like another municipality right beside us.”

First Nations will be given training and jobs at the casino, said the mayor.

Bear Mountain is also proposing to help the Tsartlip band develop 23 acres of land they own in the development by using their expertise and contributing $6 million to sewer and water infrastructure. The parties are calling on the province to contribute $2 million for the infrastructure. The land, which is not reserve land, is useless to the Tsartlip unless services are put in, said Young.

The sacred cave, which was at the heart of the conflict, will be destroyed, said Young. A healing ceremony will be held at the cave, then development will proceed. If any artifacts are discovered, they will be displayed in Bear Mountain village.

Another proposal suggests the province give the Songhees $1 million to help them develop land at the Spencer Road interchange.

Other proposals include identifying sacred sites, creating a sacred site display in the Bear Mountain village and giving First Nations the right to gather firewood at Skirt Mountain.
Times Colonist (Victoria) 2006

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