MMFN First Nation has said that it will restrict access to portion of Highway 28 that passes through the Nation’s land until a road use agreement is reached. (Black Press file photo)

MMFN First Nation has said that it will restrict access to portion of Highway 28 that passes through the Nation’s land until a road use agreement is reached. (Black Press file photo)

Vancouver Island First Nation blocks highway access to logging trucks in Gold River

Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation restricting access for Western Forest Products pending road deal

A Vancouver Island First Nation is poised to blockade the highway between the town of Gold River and its port to logging traffic until it gets compensation for the use of its land.

Mowachaht/ Muchalaht First Nation (MMFN) has announced its intention to restrict access to the portion of Highway 28 that passes through Ahaminaquus Indian Reserve Number 12 (IR 12) to the logging company Western Forest Products (WFP) effective immediately.

“This act is in response to WFP’s continued and repeated trespass on MMFN IR 12, and the province’s failure to fairly compensate MMFN for the ongoing trespass,” said the Nation in the statement. “Since MMFN never approved or consented to WFP’s use of the road that crosses MMFN’s IR#12, WFP’s continued use of the road constitutes an act of trespass.”

MMFN said it has the “right to control use and access to its reserve lands.” According to its statement, ever since Highway 28 was built 50 years ago, it has been in trespass. It maintains the land has never been legally transferred to the province and it has not been paid a cent for the use of the road by the logging company.

The legal basis for this is section 18(1) of the Indian Act, which states that “reserves are held by Her Majesty for the use and benefit of the respective band for which they were set apart.” The Nation also stated that trespassing upon a reserve or part of a reserve is an offence under sections 30 and 31 of the Indian Act.

WFP uses the section of Highway 28 in question to bring fibre to its log sort. Much of this fibre is then offloaded onto barges destined for Asia.

“Millions of dollars worth of their business goes through this road through Gold River to the waterfront,” said Dorothy Hunt, MMFN lands manager who has been trying to negotiate a road use agreement with WFP and the provincial Ministry of Transportation.

Hunt said that the Mowachaht/ Muchalaht took the step to restrict access after trying to negotiate with the company “for many years.” However, it states WFP’s responses are “not feasible.” According to Hunt, WFP has not been willing to meet compensation demands and has been “pushing off” its responsibly onto the province.

“The Nation has been patient with the province and WFP but it has been a disjointed progress all along,” said Hunt. “WFP has to come to the table and be realistic about the Road Use Agreement with MMFN.”

In addition, WFP’s decision to change its operations in Gold River and contract work for Tree Farm Licence 19 outside the community was done without consultation or informing MMFN, Hunt said.

In an email, WFP spokesperson Babita Khunkhun said the company has been in ongoing discussions regarding the portion of Highway 28 that crosses IR #12 and is working in good faith to quickly resolve this complex issue.

She also said that the company values its relationship with the Mowachaht/Muchalaht and understands the desire of the Nation to resolve the issue.

Khunkhun also said that WFP is seeking clarity from the province on its position in relation to this road given it has been held out as a provincial highway.

“Like other businesses in the area, Western has relied upon the classification of the road as a provincial highway to invest in the region,” KhunKhun said.

“Highway 28 is a critical artery in the Gold River community, not just for Western, its employees and contractors, but also for community members, many of whom use the road daily to travel to and from work in various industries operating in the area. We are committed to continuing to work in good faith to achieve a fair resolution for everyone.”

READ ALSO: Gold River council asks B.C. to provide stumpage contribution to small communities

First NationsforestryGold River

Just Posted

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

Things are looking up for Vancouver Island as zero COVID-19 cases have been reported for the first time since October. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Island records zero new COVID-19 cases for the first time since October

For the first time since October, the province is reporting zero new… Continue reading

The remains of the Mid-Island Co-op in Whiskey Creek along the Alberni Highway on Friday, June 18, after a blaze the day before devastated the gas station. (Michael Briones photo)
VIDEO: Whiskey Creek gas station destroyed by fire after camper van explosion

Nine fire departments responded to the incident, no injuries reported

New Vancouver Island University chancellor Judith Sayers was sworn in at a virtual ceremony June 17. (Submitted photo)
VIU’s new chancellor seeks innovation and equality in post-secondary education

Judith Sayers officially sworn in as Vancouver Island University chancellor

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Karl and Stephanie Ann Johanson were thrilled to spot a pair of Sandhill Cranes in the Panama Flats this month, an unusual appearance for such birds. (Photo by Stephanie Ann Johanson)
WATCH: Sandhill cranes an unusual, joyful sight in South Island parkland

These birds don’t often touch down on their way between northern B.C. and Mexico

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

(V.I. Trail/Google Maps)
Now 90% complete, Vancouver Island trail forges new funding parnership

Victoria Foundation takes on Vancouver Island Trail Association; fund valued at $40,000

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Freighters have becomd abundant in the Trincomali Channel on the east side of Thetis Island.
Nanaimo ponders taking on waste from nearby anchored freighters

Vancouver-based Tymac petitioning the Regional District of Nanaimo to accept waste at its landfill

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read