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B.C. Land Act amendments take AME by surprise

AME was unaware engagement process for Land Act changes was even underway
AME president Keerit Jutla says Land Act changes could affect mineral exploration.

An engagement process underway for changes to the Land Act in B.C. has taken at least one resource industry association by surprise.

The Association of Mineral Exploration (AME) is expressing concerns about the way the B.C. government is undertaking the reforms, which are intended to bring the Land Act into conformity with the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (DRIPA).

The AME only learned that there is a Land Act engagement process underway through the media, says AME CEO Keerit Jutla.  And the media was only made aware after the law firm McMillan posted a bulletin last week on the proposed amendments.

“Under the amendments being proposed by the B.C. government, changes will be made to enable agreements with Indigenous groups such that they will be provided a veto power over decision-making about Crown land tenures and / or have ‘joint’ decision making power with the Minister,” McMillan wrote.

“Where such agreements apply, the Crown alone will no longer have the power to make the decisions about Crown land that it considers to be in the public interest.”

Potential stakeholders have been given until March 31 to have input on the proposed amendments. In a press release, the AME says it was given no notice that an engagement process was even underway.

“The Association for Mineral Exploration… was not included in any previous outreach by the B.C. government on this process,” the AME writes. “We were made aware in the same way as many of our membership: through public media.

“Depending on scope and scale, mineral exploration and development activities may require authorizations under the Land Act. As such, future changes in this legislation do have the potential to impact our members and our Industry.

“In discussions with various ministers and Premier Eby’s office it has been shared that there is a commitment to deep engagement with industry on proposed legislative changes that potentially impact AME’s members. The Land Act engagement process so far does not reflect that commitment or the spirit of our conversations to date.”

The AME says it hopes the government will respond to concerns now being expressed about the Land Act engagement process, including providing more information about the proposed amendments.

“It is hopeful that this government will respond to the concerns and that there will be a lot more to share in the coming weeks and months. We encourage our members to participate in the public engagement processes on future legislative changes.”

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