Land Use Planning
Land Use Plan For Nisga'a lands
Background to the Plan
The need to develop a land use plan to guide future land use decisions was first identified by the Lands Committee of the Nisga’a Tribal Council in 1999.
The Effective Date of the Nisga’a Final Agreement (May 11, 2000) marked the Crown’s formal recognition of the political ability of the Nisga’a Nation to govern our lands and to make autonomous decisions with respect to the use of Nisga’a Lands and the resources associated with the land. With the enactment of legislation governing land and resource use, the Nisga’a Nation was able to establish rules for accessing Nisga’a lands and resources. This legislation alone, however, gives limited guidance to elected officials or staff when decisions needed to be made involving the evaluation of competing resource priorities or the consideration of the effect of a particular activity on the land.
The Land Use Plan is intended to give that guidance.
In all cases, land use decisions will be consistent with the provisions of the Nisga’a Final Agreement, the Constitution of the Nisga’a Nation, and Nisga’a Legislation.
Nisga’a Lands and all resources associated with the lands are owned by the Nisga’a Nation. The contemporary authority of the Nisga’a Nation to own and manage its lands and resources is expressed in the Nisga’a Final Agreement, and exercised through Nisga’a Lisims Government.
Decisions about land and resource use on Nisga’a Lands are, in most cases, made by the Executive of Nisga’a Lisims Government, and in some cases by Wilp Si’Ayuukhl Nisga’a, the legislative house of Nisga’a Lisims Government.
Various committees of the Executive act in an advisory capacity, reviewing applications and making recommendations with respect to land and resource issues. The committees, however do not have decision-making powers.
In some cases, decision-making authority has been delegated by the Executive to the Director of Lands and Resources, in accordance with Nisga’a legislation.
Nisga’a legislation that creates the authority for land use decision making includes:
• Nisga’a Land Act
• Nisga’a Land Title Act
• Nisga’a Land Designation Act
• Nisga’a Forest Act
• Nisga’a Highway Construction Act
Relationship to the Ango’oskw
In accordance with the Constitution of the Nisga’a Nation and the Nisga’a Final Agreement, land use planning is developed with the understanding that the common bowl principle will apply and with the knowledge that the Nisga’a Final Agreement recognizes the collective Nisga’a authority over the land. During the land use planning process, statements received with respect to the role of the ango’oskw holder can be received in light of the foregoing principles. It is, however, beyond the scope of planning to attempt to articulate the modern interpretation of the ayuuk in respect of the ango’oskw.
The objectives of the land use planning process were identified in January of 2000, and included:
• Respecting and supporting the Nisga’a Final Agreement and Constitution of the Nisga’a Nation,
• Ensuring that the process is respectful of the knowledge of Nisga’a citizens,
• Seeking to take advantage of local resources whenever possible, and,
• Ensuring that the process is predictable and straightforward.
Much of the required land and resource information for planning has been collected for treaty negotiations purposes by the Nisga’a Tribal Council over the many years preceding the Nisga’a Final Agreement.
The primary purpose of a land use plan is to provide guidance for land use decisions. Instead of resolving issues on an ad hoc basis, decision makers will be able to move forward with confidence that they have the information that they need, that they understand the effect that a decision may have on related issues, and that their decision is consistent with the aspirations, needs and concerns expressed by their communities. Competing priorities, such as economic development, cultural sustainability and environmental protection, can be reconciled based on agreed-upon policy. The land use plan, by articulating the policy basis for decisions, provides certainty and helps to ensure that decisions are understood to be made impartially and transparently.
It is intended that land use decisions will be consistent with the policy provisions of the land use plan. In order to permit activities not currently permitted by the plan, it is intended that the plan first be amended in accordance with the “Implementation” section of the plan.
A land use plan also functions as a catalyst for discussion of land use issues. Through application of the plan, and through periodic reviews of its contents,Nisga’a citizens are provided with an opportunity to discuss land use issues on Nisga’a Lands, and to have input into land use decisions.
The objective and policies of a land use plan are based on the following guiding principles:
• Adherence to the principle of the common bowl,
• Sustainable use of resources on Nisga’a Lands for the benefit of Nisga’a citizens,
• Protection of the environment from ecological degradation, and,
• Equitable access to Nisga’a Lands and Nisga’a resources for Nisga'a citizens.
Other Land Use Plans
In addition to conducting land use planning on Nisga'a Lands, the Nisga'a Nation, acting through Nisga'a Lisims Government also participates in provincial planning of lands outside Nisga'a Lands but within all or part of the Nass Area. Such plans include:
- Nass South SRMP
- Cranberry SRMP
- Kalum LRMP and SRMP
- North Coast LRMP and SRMP
For more information Contact:
Directorate of Lands & Resources
Nisga'a Lisims Government
PO Box 231
2000 Lisims Drive Gitlaxt’aamiks (formerly New Aiyansh), British Columbia
Canada V0J 1A0
Tel: 250 633 3052
Toll Free: 1 866 633 0888
Fax: 250 633 2367