Call for heritage policy change

A local company and First Nations are reaching out to the province over its heritage policy

A local company and First Nations are reaching out to the province over its heritage policy after aboriginal cultural sites were a factor in the city’s rejection of a development in east Abbotsford.

Corpus Management Group (CMG) had proposed an agri-centre – consolidating agricultural equipment dealers at the intersection of Atkinson and Eldridge roads. Council denied the $40-million project, with one reason being the culturally significant sites.

When CMG had first acquired a 165-acre development property in Abbotsford, no archaeological or other heritage sites were identified, according to a news release from the company.

After CMG purchased the site, it was brought to their attention that a portion of the parcel included previously recorded archeological sites registered with the Archeology Branch and protected under the Heritage Conservation Act (HCA). CMG also learned of other First Nation heritage sites, including boulder landmark and associated 18th century smallpox-era cemetery identified by the Se:math (Sumas) First Nation, neither of which were registered under the HCA.

CMG says that raises the issues of compensation for land owners as a factor of protecting significant First Nations cultural values.

John Glazema, managing director of CMG, with backing from the Sto:lo First Nation, has requested the government enact measures dealing with current shortcomings of the HCA, as well as requesting compensation for limitations on the value and use of their Abbotsford property.

Glazema recommended the government explore establishing a provincially linked Heritage Lands Funds which would support mitigating properties affected by Aboriginal cemeteries and other significant heritage sites, similar to plans proposed by the First Nations Leadership Council in BC.