District awards $43K watershed consult fee to First Nation | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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District awards $43K watershed consult fee to First Nation

The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen awarded the Lower Similkameen Indian Band a $43,755 for its watershed consultation work. Chief Robert Edward, environment co-ordinator Tracy Lawlor and resource director Gwen Bridge made it clear the band wants to be at the watershed discussion table.
August 02, 2013 - 5:26 AM

PENTICTON - A First Nation will get paid for its contribution to a watershed plan which is in contrast with other communities doing similar work for free.

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen was hesitant at a previous meeting about paying the Lower Similkameen Indian Band $43,755 for the First Nation's work on the Similkameen River Watershed Plan.

The regional district showed no hestitation at Thursday's meeting and voted to pay the band for its consultation work. The First Nation's argument is they have studied the watershed for years and have much to contribute.

The regional district is the steering committee for the Similkameen Valley Planning Society. Its chief goal is to safeguard the area's water supply and is 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. Payment to plan partners was never considered, public works manager Doug French had said.

The society was given a $500,000 grant for the plan's technical work but French said diverting nine per cent of the budget for "FN relations" will hurt the technical study.

Chief Robert Edward told the regional district in June "You are going to have us at the table," and their insistence was not just about money. "Your decisions here and at other tables impact our ability to gather our foods, and medicines and our sacred places."

To contact a reporter for this story, to send photos or videos, email Shannon Quesnel at squesnel@infotelnews.ca, call 250-488-3065 or tweet @shannonquesnel1

News from © iNFOnews, 2013

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