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DRIPA may face first legal test over boat docks

Pender Harbour residents association plans to sue over co-management agreement
Pender Harbour on the Sunshine Coast has a lot of private docks, now under a co-management agreement with Shishalh First Nation.

The Pender Harbour Area Residents Association (PHARA) says it plans to launch a legal challenge to the B.C. government's decision to invest the Shíshálh (Sechelt) First Nation with co-management powers over dock tenures on the Sunshine Coast.

At the heart of the legal challenge is the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DRIPA).

The PHARA said in a news release that it plans to challenge an Order in Council that directed two B.C. ministries to negotiate an agreement that gives the First Nation co-management decision making powers over dock tenures in Shishalh territory.

The shíshálh swiya Dock Management Plan covers an area from Lang Bay to Roberts Creek on the Sunshine Coast. It has implications for all private dock owners and boathouse owners.

Joint decision-making is provided for under Section 7 of DRIPA.

The PHARA, which has expressed concerns over a lack of transparency over the way the agreement was negotiated, plans to argue the agreement exceeds the province’s constitutional powers.

“PHARA will ask the court to rule that the DRIPA is beyond the province's constitutional power and that Order in Council 2022-0444 is invalid,” the PHARA said in a press release.

"We take this action only after serious reflection and with a deep sense of responsibility," PHARA director Sean McAllister said in the press release.

"But after nearly two years of being shut out of the shíshálh s. 7 agreement negotiations, after watching the botched consultations on the proposed Land Act amendments and after seeing government repeatedly go far beyond what Canada's constitution requires in terms of Aboriginal rights, we have been left with no choice."

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