The Nass Area Strategy
Presented to Wilp Si’ayuukhl Nisga’a January 2009
Under the Nisga’a Final Agreement, the Nisga’a Nation has substantial Treaty rights throughout the Nass Area.
The Nass Area covers almost 27,000 square kilometers. About 8% of this area is Nisga’a Lands which roughly correspond to what people think of as the Nass Valley from Nass Camp to the coast. The Nation owns and has control over development on Nisga’a Lands. The Nation also has comprehensive rights relating to consultation and environmental assessment over proposed developments in the rest of the Nass Area
These rights will vary by project but will always include the Treaty rights set out in the Environmental Protection and Assessment Chapter of the Nisga’a Final Agreement (Chapter 10) which are triggered any time a potential project may reasonably be expected to have adverse environmental effects on residents of Nisga’a Lands, Nisga’a Lands or Nisga’a Treaty interests.
In the Fall of 2008, the Nisga’a Lisims Government Executive mandated NLG senior management to create a strategy for responding to proposed resource development within the Nass Area. The objective of the strategy is to ensure that proposed developments in the Nass Area will proceed only when all Nisga’a Treaty rights under the Nisga’a Final Agreement have been complied with, including those Treaty rights dealing with economic, social, cultural and environmental interests. The Nation will rely on these Treaty provisions to ensure that Nisga’a Treaty interests are protected.
The Nass Area Strategy is a set of principles and a process to be undertaken by Nisga’a Lisims Government management and, where necessary, its Officers and Executive to ensure Nisga’a Treaty rights are complied with.
The strategy, which is being directed by the NLG Executive, will be implemented to ensure that the environmental rights explicitly guaranteed by the Nisga’a Final Agreement are strictly enforced and that and that our traditional uses of the land, our traditional and modern harvesting practices, our land ownership and our land use plans are respected and adhered to.
A basic principle of the strategy is that only environmentally sound resource development projects that are consistent with Nisga’a Treaty rights will proceed. When and only when these elements are satisfied will the Nation explore the opportunity for Nisga’a economic development. These opportunities will vary by project but may include:
- Equity Ownership
- Revenue Sharing
- Contracting Opportunities
- Direct Employment
- Joint Venturing Opportunities
Under no circumstances will the Nation accept a trade-off between environmental protection and economic benefits.
Results of the Nass Area Strategy
Northwest Transmission Line
NLG is pleased to announce the conclusion of its first major development agreement since the Effective Date through the NASWG process. The Northwest Transmission Line is a 335-km, 287 kV transmission line between Skeena Substation (near Terrace) and a new substation to be built near Bob Quinn Lake. The agreement between NLG and British Columbia Hydro and Power Authority (BC Hydro) ensures that as long as the Northwest Transmission Line is on Nisga’a Lands, Nisga’a people will benefit and the environment will be protected.
This agreement marks the first time since the Effective Date that the rights of NLG under the Environment Chapter of the Treaty have been tested. Rights to consultation were implemented, rights to environmental mitigation of adverse affects are complied with, as well as rights in connection with Nisga’a Nation economic participation were all achieved in this approval process. As a result, NLG will receive cash transfers, direct award contracting opportunities, investment opportunities, access to fibre optics, as well as future business development and investment opportunities. This will bring significant jobs and contracting opportunities to Nisga’a citizens and Nisga’a entrepreneurs.