January 25, 2008 09:00 ET

First Nations Applaud Move Away From Long-Term Landfills

Attention: Assignment Editor, City Editor, Environment Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor LYTTON, BC, PRESS RELEASE--(Marketwire - Jan. 25, 2008) - Nlaka'pamux First Nations in the interior of BC are supportive of Metro Vancouver's move to improve the handling of garbage. Metro Vancouver's board is meeting today and the Nlaka'pamux Nation Tribal Council (NNTC) is cautiously optimistic that long-term landfills will be a thing of the past.

The Tribal Council leadership applauds the recommendation to abandon Ashcroft Ranch and Highland Valley as future landfills. "Both of these sites are located within our Territory and we could not allow our lands to be used as dumping grounds" says Chief Bob Pasco, chair of the NNTC.

Right now, Metro Vancouver trucks over 500,000 tonnes of garbage annually through the Nation's territory to the current landfill site at Cache Creek. It's estimated that the current site will be full by 2010. Metro Vancouver needs to find a viable solution and the NNTC needs to be a part of it.

"We offered to work with the Province and Metro Vancouver to find alternatives to long-term landfills years ago" says Chief Pasco. "A number of us, including the late Chief George Kirkpatrick, met with the chair of the GVRD (then Richmond mayor, Greg Halsey-Brandt) back in the mid-1990's. We offered then to work together on a plan for the future."

Although the GVRD did not consider it necessary at the time, the reality is that aboriginal people must be included in land use decisions that affect their lands.

The Tribal Council has spent its own time and resources exploring waste management alternatives. Over the years they have met with various experts, including the Suzuki Foundation. "We did our homework" says Chief Pasco "and we shared what we learned with the GVRD. It's very unfortunate that the Province and Metro Vancouver have wasted so much time and public money resisting us. If they had respected our people and our title, they would have saved the public millions of dollars."

It will take time to phase out landfills. "It's common knowledge that an interim solution needs to be found" says Chief Pasco. "The Tribal Council has given the government different ideas to solve the interim garbage problem - ones that would protect jobs in the area. Neither the Province nor Metro Vancouver have responded to our ideas - but we remain open to joint discussions ."

In the end, it appears that Metro Vancouver has determined that without First Nations' cooperation, long-term landfills will not fly in the area. In an internal report to its waste management committee, Metro Vancouver called proceeding without First Nations' support "futile". Whether or not government chooses to work with First Nations for an interim solution that benefits the region, remains to be seen. /For further information: PDF COPY AVAILABLE AT - IN: ENERGY, ENVIRONMENT, HEALTH, POLITICS, OTHER

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