First Nations are not under any form of CRD bylaws and are not governed by provincial laws either. These lands are managed by Indian and Northern Affairs for the use and benefit of First Nations. There is a perverse and paternalistic dance between the Feds and First Nations on lands.
The issue has become one that people are talking about because the Tsartlip First Nation is offering the Peninsula Coop some land to develop given the Coop's difficulty in getting there proposal for a grocery store through the local governments.
How much land in the core of the CRD is under the control of First Nations? 1329.6 hectares.
That is on the same scale as the five smallest muncipalities in the CRD.
- Sidney - 504 ha
- Esquimalt - 704 ha
- Oak Bay - 1038 ha
- View Royal - 1448 ha
- Colwood - 1776 ha
On the Peninsula
- Tseycum - 28 hectares on the peninsula
- Pauquachin - 321.5 hectares
- Tsartlip - 206 hectares
- Tsawout - 237.7 hectares on the peninsula
- Goldtream 13 is shared by 5 first nations and is 4.8 hectares
- Esquimalt - 18.9 hectares
- Songhees - 137.8 hectares
- Scai'new - 307.7 hectares
- T'souke - 67.2 hectares
Many of the reserves in the CRD have not been developed much at all, there are some reserves that are in a defacto wilderness state. This land could all be developed without any input from the CRD.
People need to be aware that none of the 13 municipalities or the CRD have ever done their planning with participation or consent of the First Nations. The reserves are outside of the regional growth strategy - which was created without any consultation with First Nations. The lack of consultation with the First Nations makes the legal basis of the RGS dubious because it infringes on the Treaty and Aboriginal Rights of local First Nations.
As more development happens on reserves, there will be more and more people that are angry and demand that they have a say over First Nation lands. That will not happen and should not happen. First Nation lands are not part of BC and residents of BC have no business interfering with them. First Nation is not an affection - they are legally recognized as a form of a nation though not as one that is independent. The term used in the US is "domestically dependent state".
I am personally supportive of First Nations right to make use of their land however they wish. I have worked on several different First Nation land management codes and I understand how on reserve lands are governed. Even though they are micro managed by the Feds, First Nations have a set of rights for private property holders that would make most property rights people drool.
Finally, one interesting quirk of the world, until a First Nation passes a property tax bylaw, local governments collect property taxes on reserve from non-aboriginal owners of interest in lands. At this time, only two of the eight First Nations have property tax powers. Tsartlip is not one of them meaning Central Saanich would still collect property taxes from the Coop development.