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Salish Sea Sentinel | August 19, 2017

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Snuneymuxw calls for new harbour governance

Snuneymuxw’s chief and council have voted unanimously to replace the Nanaimo Port Authority and find a new way to run the city’s harbour and marine areas.

The First Nation is the latest to join a growing call to seek out new management of the harbour that also includes the City of Nanaimo and Nanaimo Marina Association.

The Nanaimo Port Authority currently governs several significant sites for Snuneymuxw, including the city’s main harbour and Newcastle Channel.

However Chief John Wesley said the nation has been largely left out of any decision-making around, or benefits from, the water lots despite their rights to those areas.

“The waters of Nanaimo harbour are sacred to the Snuneymuxw First Nation and at the core of historic Snuneymuxw Fisheries that are protected by our Treaty of 1854 with the Crown,” he said in a statement.

“Since 1854, these waters and fisheries have been systematically displaced by settlers in ways that are inconsistent with our rights and that has not provided compensation for those losses.”

Odai Sirri of the Greater Nanaimo Waterfront Association began the campaign for new harbour management because he is unhappy with increasing lease rates at Newcastle Channel marinas that he said have shot up since 2012.

Sirri said his group is excited to be working with Snuneymuxw.

“We are committed to working in partnership… to ensure we have a sustainable, economically viable harbour that respects Douglas Treaty Rights and creates economic benefits for industry and the community-at-large,” he said.

Transport Canada recently issued a statement to Nanaimo News Now that said the Transport Minister is solely responsible for issuing authority to manage a port in Canada.