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North Cowichan looks to consultant to develop co-management framework with First Nations

Trail development in Municipal Forest Reserve a ‘very sensitive issue’

North Cowichan is planning to hire a consultant later this year to develop a co-management framework with local First Nations for the Municipal Forest Reserve.

Neil Pukesh, director of parks and recreation, told on Wednesday that a “request for proposal” is currently being drafted by the municipality.

The RFP will be shared with Quw'utsun Nation for their review and likely not issued until at least the fall.

Last week, Pukesh told the municipality’s economic development committee that the process could take two years. In the meantime, “all trail development” in the 5,000-hectare forest reserve is on hold.

Trail development is a “very sensitive issue” with First Nations, he said.

“It’s important that we hear First Nations’ concerns and their views, as there are a lot of them.

“When we met with them initially we asked, ‘where are the sensitivities? And they basically told us, ‘everywhere.’”


Pukesh noted that First Nations and BC Parks recently announced an agreement whereby busy Joffre Lakes northeast of Pemberton would be closed to the public for specific periods in 2024 to allow for Indigenous use of the area.

“That could be a path that we go down as well, but we’re not too sure at this point.”

First Nations areas of interest:

Last year, a public consultation process showed 76-per-cent support for two conservation management options for the forest reserve. Status quo logging scored 17 percent.

Whether the public gets an opportunity to comment on the results of closed talks with Quw'utsun Nation is unclear.

More on trail use:

(Photos: mountain bike on Mount Tzouhalem; new trail sign on Mount Prevost)

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— Larry Pynn, June 6, 2024

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