WHEREAS in 2009, Alberta Sustainable Resource Development and Alberta Culture and Community Spirit implemented, and Alberta Environment expanded, its First Nations consultative requirements; and
WHEREAS Strategy 7, of the Provincial Land Use Framework, commits to the inclusion of Aboriginal peoples in land-use planning;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties (AAMDC), urge the Province of Alberta to clearly articulate its intent and direction with respect to First Nations consultation and where the Government intends to require consultation, that a “one window”, multi-departmental First Nations consultative process be implemented that provides for fair and timely decisions.
In the fall of 2008, Clearwater County began the planning and engineering for the development of a new sewer system and sewage lagoon for the Hamlet of Nordegg. Part of this planning process involved fulfilling the requirements of Alberta Environment to undertake First Nations consultation.
In August of 2009, following the tendering of the lagoon project (tenders were already closed), Clearwater County was advised by Sustainable Resource Development (SRD) that additional consultation was required beyond the consultation already undertaken and accepted by Alberta Environment. In August of 2009, Clearwater County was also advised that approvals from Alberta Culture and Community Spirit were delayed pending the outcome of the SRD consultative process.
Sustainable Resource Development required the Clearwater County Public Works department to undertake a similar consultative process for the widening of an existing public road within the public lands area of Clearwater County.
The wording of Strategy 7 of the Land Use Framework makes it clear that the Province of Alberta intends to have Aboriginal involvement in land use planning; however, the extent and scope of where this involvement may be required is unclear. The lack of clarity regarding the required involvement of First Nations through land use planning processes, and the duplicative nature of the current consultative process of Alberta Environment, Culture and Community Spirit, and Sustainable Resource Development needs to be addressed.
The AAMDC has no current resolutions directly related to this issue.
The Government of Alberta’s First Nations Consultation Policy on Land Management and Resource Development (Consultation Policy), adopted by Cabinet in 2005, commits Alberta to consult with First Nations where land management and resource development on provincial Crown land may adversely impact First Nations’ treaty rights and traditional uses. In 2006, and later updated in 2007, Alberta released the First Nations Consultation Guidelines on Land Management and Resource Development (Consultation Guidelines), which describes how consultation should occur in relation to specific activities. Neither the Consultation Policy nor the Consultation Guidelines specifically reference the role of municipalities in First Nations consultation.
Alberta is aware that municipalities and First Nations are seeking clarity about the role of municipal governments in First Nations consultation. To this end, Aboriginal Relations is currently working with officials from Alberta Municipal Affairs, as well as other provincial ministries, to explore this issue.
The Government of Alberta’s First Nations Consultation Policy and Guidelines on Land Management and Resource Development are under review. Both Associations were invited to participate in the review by leading consultation with our respective members. Formal input from First Nations, Aboriginal organizations, industry associations, municipal governments and associations has been received. The government is currently working with Alberta’s three treaty organizations to receive final input in the policy review by October 31, 2011. A draft policy is likely to be made available in late 2011 for final review by stakeholders, with an final policy to be approved in 2012. As the process moves forward, the AAMDC will revisit this resolution to ensure new policy developments continue to meet its intent.