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Structuring collaboration amongst B.C. First Nations and local governments : learning from Katzie First Nation and neighbouring local governments Wells, Marlene

Abstract

First Nations and local government communities in urban areas in British Columbia find themselves living in close proximity to each other as a result of urban growth. Local governments are becoming concerned about the impacts final treaty settlements will have on their communities. In general, they are unsure about the effects increased self-governing powers will have on their communities. In order for treaty implementation to be successful and, for First Nations and local government communities to co-exist in urban areas, it is necessary for these two parties to develop collaborative relationships. The main objectives of this research were to identify ways First Nations and local governments could collaborate on planning matters and to contribute to the literature on First Nation and local government planning relationships in BC. A framework of opportunities and obstacles to structuring collaboration among a First Nation and local government was developed by interviewing individuals from Katzie First Nation and neighbouring local governments. A discussion on the need for both parties to be motivated by a critical interest to structure collaboration is included in the framework. For the current study, the critical interest for the two parties stems from Katzie's treaty negotiations. The study found five key elements that together increase the opportunity for First Nations and local governments to structure collaboration. These are First Nation participation in the BC treaty process, face to face communication, mutual learning, First Nation participation in neighbouring community events, and informed municipal leaders on First Nation issues. The study identified the following four obstacles to collaboration: First Nations and local governments inability to negotiate at the treaty table, competing land use and development, relative government and administrative capacity, and lack of legislation requiring First Nations to consult with local governments. The framework considers issues that are specific to urban areas in BC where First Nations are negotiating treaties and how these issues affect collaboration among First Nations and local governments. The opportunities are consistent with the general principles of collaborative planning. It is concluded that the BC treaty process, in this case, acts as a catalyst in bringing these two parties together in long term dialogue and eventual collaboration.

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