The Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) is demanding that the provincial government extinguish four mineral claims it says were granted in contravention of an agreement meant to protect Sumas Mountain Inter-regional Park.
The district’s corporate services committee voted to send a letter to the ministry of energy, mines and petroleum resources pointing out that four such claims had been granted since 2001, when the Regional Park Creation Agreement came into force. It also claims that a fifth mineral tenure rights claim was granted adjacent to the park without proper consultation with FVRD.
Mineral claims granted by the province allow the holder to explore an area for minerals and test samples. Further permission must be given before mining can begin.
FVRD board chair Jason Lum said protecting the Sumas Mountain park is important to his board.
“We believe the park should stay as a park and be preserved for its natural and ecological values,” Lum said.
Lum told The News he was optimistic the matter would be resolved without issue.
“We’ve had good cooperation with the province and I anticipate that we’ll be able to continue in co-operation,” he said.
The letter comes as the FVRD, City of Abbotsford and recreation users groups have called on the province to stop a proposed quarry adjacent to the park.
Lum would not speculate on why he thought claims were granted or what steps the FVRD would take if the province did not heed its request to extinguish them.
If a claim overlaps into “alienated land,” the claim holder does not have exploration rights to that land, according to a ministry spokesperson, who confirmed that four mineral claims overlapping parts of the park were granted after the Regional Park Creation Agreement. He said the agreement lays out a consultation process for claims adjacent to the park.
The spokesperson said ministry staff are setting up a meeting to discuss the issue with FVRD representatives this week.