UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Land use planning opportunities and limitations for Indian reserves : selected case studies in the Greater Vancouver area Atamanenko, George Theodore


The Indian people of Canada are her fastest growing ethnic group. They are a people in cultural transition, adapting increasingly to the ways of the Canadian society as a whole; yet retaining elements of their traditional culture. There are over 2,200 Indian Reserves in Canada, varying in size and location. In the Greater Vancouver area there are five such Reserves. Their semi-rural development contrasts sharply with the highly urbanized adjacent non-Indian communities. To Indian people the reserve is more than just an area in which to locate a home. Its land is a unique and tangible heritage from the past, and it represents psychological as well as material security. Recent studies by anthropologists have shown that because of these implications, among others, the Indian Reserves will tend to remain part of the Canadian and American scene in the foreseeable future. The attitudes of Indian people seem to support this statement. However, living in the midst of an urban environment, the Indian people are entitled to, and beginning to demand, some of the benefits of urbanization. The accommodation of this demand, as well as the orderly disposition of land, requires land use planning. Planning is also essential to meet the requirements of surrounding municipalities, to whose development the Reserves often present an impediment. This thesis sets out to demonstrate the relevance of land use planning to Indian Reserves; the amount of interest taken in it, and the degree of planning already taking place on some Reserves. In the process of this study, a brief account is given of some of the distinctive qualities of the Indian society in transition. An examination is made of the special legal considerations that apply to Reserve lands. Maps and tables support the written material, and a glossary of special terms has been prepared. A major method used in this study was the interviewing of various people in regards to their attitudes towards land use planning for Indian Reservations; the extent of co-operation between Indian Band Councils and the Indian Affairs Branch of the Federal Department of Citizenship and Immigration, on one hand, and the planning agencies on the other, in regards to planning; and the amount and type of land use planning already taking place or being proposed for Reserves. In preparation for the interviews certain hypotheses were set up. On the basis of these, questionnaires were prepared for use in first interviews. The questionnaires were also useful in tabulating the information gained through interviewing. Interviews were held with several members of the Indian Affairs Branch; with Chiefs and Councillors of the five Indian Reserves in the Greater Vancouver area; with staffs from the Planning Agencies of the Municipalities which adjoin the Indian Reserves; with staff of the Lower Mainland Regional Planning Board and the Provincial Regional Planning Division. Several authorities on various aspects of Indian life were also interviewed. The information gained through the interviews is presented in tabulated form and its implication is discussed in the third chapter of the thesis. An analysis of the material obtained through this study suggests certain conclusions. The Indian Reserves are here to stay as far as can be foreseen. Those within a generally urban environment are undergoing a considerable degree of urbanization, and there is some tendency towards co-operation with Municipal Planning Departments. Land use planning on Reserves is taking place within a very limited scope. Consider able interest in broader applications of land use planning is shown, but at present there does not appear to be either sufficient understanding of planning or sufficient contact between Indian authorities and appropriate Planning Agencies.

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