Urban reserve hits funding roadblock

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The city of Fort St. John will not be receiving provincial research funding toward the first ever B.C. urban reserve.

The City and the Doig River First Nation signed a memorandum of understanding back in August to help establish an urban reserve within city limits.

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Prior to the memorandum being signed, Doig officials had conducted their own research into the possibility of an urban reserve within Fort St. John and had received funding from senior levels of government, says Mayor Bruce Lantz. However, Lantz says when the City had asked whether it would receive similar funding for research towards the implementation of the reserve it was told that the funding should come directly from the City and not from the Province.

The landmark proposal would be the first urban reserve in the province and Lantz says it should be established correctly, which will take time and money to ensure previous mistakes made in other urban reserves across Canada are not repeated. He also says the money to pay for the necessary research should be coming from senior levels of government and not the City.

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Lantz says that although the idea of an urban reserve is fairly new, Saskatoon, Sask. is one city that already has this type of reserve in place.

Urban reserves can take different forms. He says one form exists in which the First Nation acquires land within city boundaries and is able to utilize city services. Another is where the First Nation acquires land outside city boundaries and the city then extends its boundaries to incorporate the reserve. If this occurs, he says the First Nation would probably have to pay to acquire city services.

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Lantz says the City will have to work with the Doig River to determine how it will go about incorporating an urban reserve, which will require research. He stresses that city residents would not be paying for anything to do with the reserve itself. However, he adds that the current problem is in coming up with the funding for conducting research into the reserve.

The signing of the memorandum in August was being touted as a first step toward opening the door for similar partnerships.

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