July 04, 2013 - 1:16 PM
PENTICTON - A First Nation and the regional district are at odds over a fee the former wants to charge for its contribution to a water study.
The Lower Similkameen Indian Band wants $43,755 for its share of the work on the Similkameen River Watershed Plan. The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen is hesitant about paying.
The district received a $500,000 government grant to continue the work started by the Similkameen Valley Planning Society. The society is non-profit, made up of Areas B, G and H, the Village of Keremeos, the Town of Princeton, the Lower Similkameen Indian Band and the Upper Similkameen Indian Band. The regional district is the steering committee for the watershed plan project.
Public works manager Doug French said payment to plan partners was never considered. Other governing partners have been submitting or will submit information and expertise for no charge. The money is for technical work and outside consultants.
"With climate change, Mountain Pine beetle, mining and dams in the future of the Similkameen Valley the need for a ... baseline study is essential," French said. "Diverting nine per cent of the project budget for FN relations will reduce the amount available for the technical study and may set precedent for future projects."
LSIB officials said they have studied the watershed for years and have much to contribute. They have also said the watershed plan needs to factor in First Nation traditional and cultural concerns.
Chief Robert Edward visited the regional district last month and made it clear the First Nation is to be included. "You are going to have us at the table."
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013