In September 2018, AUMA informed members about its advocacy on the province’s plans to update the policies that guide how First Nations and Métis Settlements are consulted regarding the development of land and natural resources. After three years of stakeholder engagement, Alberta Indigenous Relations released a discussion guide in November that proposed four immediate amendments to the policies and thirteen other potential amendments that would require a more long-term discussion.
Following additional stakeholder engagements in November, the Ministry of Indigenous Relations communicated it will not proceed with any amendments at this time. The decision was based on feedback from Indigenous communities, industry and municipal stakeholders that more time is needed to understand the potential impact of the proposed changes. The proposed changes address issues such as:
- Scope of projects
- Cultural training
- Consultation funding
- Numerous procedural factors
AUMA expects that further engagements will be postponed until after the provincial election.
How the policies impact municipalities
The Crown has a duty to consult First Nations and Metis Settlements on decisions that may have potential adverse impacts on First Nations’ Treaty rights or traditional uses, and Metis Settlement members’ harvesting or traditional use activities. A municipality is impacted when it seeks approval for a project that requires approval by the Government of Alberta on behalf of the Crown. Common examples can include the development of a water line, wastewater treatment plant, or a road through Crown land as those projects can often impact traditional Indigenous practices of hunting and fishing or culturally significant sites such as burial grounds. If the policy is triggered, Alberta’s Aboriginal Consultation Office provides direction on what First Nations or Metis Settlements needed to be consulted including details on the process and extent of consultation prior to the province considering the project application.
Note: The First Nations and Metis Settlements consultation policies should not be confused with the 2017 updates to the Municipal Government Act (MGA) regarding notifications and collaboration with Indigenous communities. The First Nations and Metis Settlements consultation policies are uniquely specific to the Crown’s duty to consult on proposed developments of land and natural resources, whereas the MGA changes focus on communication and relationship building between municipalities and Indigenous communities.
For questions, please contact AUMA’s Advocacy team.