Regional district in dark over Alberni float homes

There's talks between the Hupacasath First Nation and province over floathomes in Great Central Lake but the ACRD isn't part of them.

The Alberni Clayoquot Regional District is in the dark over talks being held between the province and Hupacasath First Nation regarding float homes at Great Central Lake.

Letters from the province and ACRD regarding the matter were part of the ACRD committee of the whole meeting last week.

At issue are the nearly 50 untenured float homes located on crown foreshore at Great Central Lake.

“The regional district is concerned about how the existing float homes will be dealt with and the potential impact on the regional district,” wrote ACRD chair Glenn Wong.

“The regional district would like the opportunity to comment on the study and any recommendations prior to the study being finalized,” he said.

The float homes are part of the confidential mediation process between the Hupacasath First Nation and the province over the deletion of private lands from TFL 44, noted Ministry of Forests and Lands spokesperson Myles Mana.

In November 2008, the B.C. Supreme Court ruled that the provincial government failed to consult with the Hupacasath First Nation before removing 77,000 hectares of land from TFL 44 in 2004.

If the Hupacasath accept the province’s offer then more substantive talks about the solution to the float homes will be opened with the ACRD, Mana wrote in a reply to Wong.

Although Great Central Lake is in the ACRD’s jurisdiction the issue is layered with a complex matrix of interests.

The ACRD has zoned the area  as A4 – forest reserve district.

Float homes are not permitted by the ACRD but they exist.

Inspection of them doesn’t seem to be required because they are outside of the ACRD’s jurisdiction.

The Hupacasath identify the area as being an ancestral home, and the area is marked with petroglyphs now submerged.

And Island Timberlands has timber interests in the area, which were the subject of the Hupacasath court challenge.

“It’s a big puzzle with different pieces that fit and work together,” ACRD planner Jennifer McLarty said.

There are float homes associated with the Ark Resort marina. But they pay a fee to the resort and receive utility service in return.

The mediation was court ordered government-to-government negotiations, which is why the ACRD was not included, McLarty said.

The regional district did have input into the GCL Float Cabin Study, which was completed in September 2010.

But the study is not linked to negotiations between the province and HFN.

Calls to ACRD Sproat Lake director Penny Cote and the Hupacasath First Nation weren’t returned by deadline.

In a previous interview about TFL 44, Hupacasath CEO Robert Duncan said that the tribe is still bound by confidentiality stipulations in its discussions with the province.

reporter@albernivalleynews.com