City takes new approach for urban reserve funding

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The City of Fort St. John is hoping to finally receive either provincial or federal funding for its work in negotiating an urban reserve with the Doig River First Nation.

The Doig River first nation has already received funding from senior levels of government to conduct its own research into the possibility of implementing an urban reserve. However, the City was told that the reason it did not receive funding is because it did not have a comprehensive work plan outlining land selection and a service agreement.

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The City says a work plan has now been developed and on Monday, City Council passed a motion to send the plan to the Province along with a funding request.

Although Mayor Bruce Lantz had told back in February that Fort St. John residents would not have to pay for anything to do with the reserve itself, he added that the problem had been coming up with the necessary funding to properly research the reserve.

The City has set aside $40,000 in its 2011 proposed operating budget for the project. However, the City also says that if it receives funding from either the provincial or federal government, that money would decrease how much the City would pay.

Back in August, the City and the Doig River First Nation signed the first memorandum of understanding in the Peace River Region, which was expected to help kick-start the planning process for an urban reserve.

An urban reserve could take different forms. The Doig River First Nation could either acquire land within city boundaries or it could acquire land outside the city, with the city then extending its boundaries to incorporate the reserve.

Either way, the plan would be for the aboriginal community to contribute financially to the city and, in turn, receive the benefits of some of its services.

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