A view of some of the DND land in the Mary Hill area in Metchosin as seen from Pedder Bay. (Photo courtesy of Troy Dierk)

Beecher Bay First Nation, Metchosin and Pearson College sign land memorandum

Groups seek a shared vision for Mary Hill land

Rick Stiebel

News staff

The three parties involved in developing a common vision for the Mary Hill lands in Metchosin have established preservation and prosperity as common goals.

The Beecher Bay (Sc’ianew) First Nation, the District of Metchosin and Pearson College UWC signed a memorandum of understanding on Monday that calls for them to work together on planning the future of an area known as Mary Hill, which includes about 74 acres of land in Metchosin that includes Pearson College within the unceded traditional territories of Beecher Bay First Nation.

Beecher Bay is currently negotiating a modern land claim agreement with the government of Canada as part of the British Columbia Treaty Process through the Te’mexw Treaty Association. The Sc’ianew First Nation is identifying lands that may be part of its treaty settlement lands as part of the process, including the disposition of Mary Hill and its potential inclusion in the First nation’s treaty package.

Chief Russ Chipps emphasized in a media release that the MOU demonstrates Beecher Bay’s commitment to work with its neighbouring communities now and into the future. “This MOU is a significant milestone in our relationship with our neighbours, Metchosin and Pearson College UWC. It will lay the foundation for strategic planning based on community input and, more importantly, reconciliation.

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Metchosin Mayor John Ranns underlined Metchosin’s commitment to the spirit of the agreement. “We have a continuing and vital interest in preserving the rural character of Metchosin,” he said. “We are very pleased to work with our colleagues on the Beecher Bay First Nation and our neighbours at Pearson College UWC to help maintain not only the character, but also the natural environment o our community.”

Under the MOU, the three parties will collaborate on land use planning based on their respective interests. That includes maintaining green zones and protected areas while providing the foundation for advancing Beecher Bay’s economic interests. Specific locations and land uses will be developed in a working group that will report to their respective governing bodies.

Pearson College president Desiree McGraw echoed the other parties’ comments as well.

“The goodwill and spirit of collaboration by all parties in this agreement demonstrates our mutual desire to honour the land on which we live and, in our case, on which our students from across Canada and around the world learn.”

Establishing the MOU are important lessons in showing reconciliation with Canada’s First Nations in action at a local and neighbourly level, she added.

The Department of National Defence, which currently holds the Mary Hill lands, previously indicated they are no longer required for DND use. The Pearson College lands are owned by the college for as long as every part of the land is used for the college’s purposes.

rick.stiebel@goldstreamgazette.com

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