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North Cowichan and First Nations release long-awaited MOU on forest reserve

Meetings of new Working Group won’t be public

After more than a year’s wait, North Cowichan and First Nations on Friday released the text of a memorandum of understanding on the 5,000-hectare Municipal Forest Reserve.

The MOU provides for the Municipality and First Nations to create a Working Group “to exchange information in relation to the stewardship and use of the Municipal Forest Reserve for the benefit of the community.”

Talks leading to the MOU were conducted in secrecy and the same would apply to the Working Group, which would meet at least monthly at North Cowichan’s expense.

The MOU states that “all communications at the Working Group meetings, including any written materials which are produced for the purposes of a meeting or are otherwise created at the request of Principals, are to remain confidential” except where subject to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

The Working Group would be comprised of up to 12 members, split between the Municipality and First Nations. Any releases to the public must be mutually agreed upon.

The agreement also stipulates that the MOU is not intended to have any legally binding effect and “does not create any legally enforceable rights or obligations of either of the Parties.” It may be terminated by either Party with 14 days’ notice.

Cowichan Tribes and the Halalt, Stz’uminus, Penelakut and Lyackson First Nations are party to the agreement.

Full details here:

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— Larry Pynn, Aug. 27, 2021


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