Tlowitsis First Nation requested ex-Sayward mayor John MacDonald to continue as the representative on the Tlowitsis Treaty Advisory Committee (TAC) at the Strathcona Regional District (SRD) council meetings.
The recommendation was made at the SRD board meeting on April 29 and a decision is yet to be reached with the agenda carried forward to the next meeting.
The First Nation expressed its support to continue with MacDonald after the former Sayward mayor announced his resignation from office on March 13.
Tlowitsis councillor, Thomas Smith, said they wish for MacDonald to continue as representative due to his “long standing understanding of the First Nation’s goals” with regards to the development of their 635-acre reserve land, Nenagwas.
Smith also said that MacDonald provided “positive support” and “progressive ideas” for the project.
Providing an update on the Nenagwas community project, Smith said that unexpected delays at a bureaucratic level due to COVID-19 have set back the timeline of ongoing work.
He also said that getting a new representative on the project will mean investing on more time for them to understand the history of the project and its goal, which could be another time consuming element at this stage.
Upon his resignation, MacDonald also discontinued in his role as director on the SRD board and the committees he served, among which was the Tlowitsis TAC.
At a board of directors meeting of SRD, held on March 11, where MacDonald announced his exit, he requested to continue as a representative on the Tlowitsis TAC for the remainder of 2020.
MacDonald suggested he could continue to provide monthly reports on the project in exchange for reimbursement of any expenses incurred during the process.
The TAC, not considered to be a SRD board committee , is not subject to restrictions on membership by non-directors. And with neither provincial or federal restrictions on local government appointments to treaty advisory committees, the regional board can appoint any representative to the Tlowitsis TAC.
MacDonald represented the regional district during treaty negotiations with the Tlowitsis First Nation since 2013.
Prior to the purchase the 635-acre land, on York road, south of Campbell River, for the Tlowitsis community in 2018, there were bureaucratic negotiations that took place with the SRD. Tlowitsis Addition to Reserve application received support from the SRD in 2017 after it previously withheld support.