The Tsawwassen Final Agreement will see 207 hectares removed from the agricultural land reserve and, possibly, developed - something that should be a significant concern for environmentalists. After all, just last year, the David Suzuki Foundation released a report declaring, "The best, most productive agricultural lands have intrinsic values that should be protected into perpetuity - once developed they can never be adequately recovered or restored." But many of British Columbia's major environmental groups - including the foundation - haven't come out swinging against the treaty.
Speaking with Public Eye, foundation communication specialist Ian Hanington explained, "We haven't really been involved in the Tsawwassen Treaty issue - other than to say the David Suzuki Foundation does support the settlement of treaties in B.C. and in Canada. And that's about as far as we'll go with that."
For her part, Sierra Club of Canada British Columbia chapter executive director Kathryn Malloy said, "We just do not have enough information (to comment). We haven't been on this in any substantive way. So we don't feel we're qualified to make a comment."
Meanwhile, West Coast Environmental Law Research Foundation executive director Patricia Chew stated, "We don't have a position on it, no. We believe in the resolution of aboriginal title and rights claims. And we like to see them resolved. And we do work on that behalf. And there are bound to be some changes when people do get their title back. But there's nothing, as yet, to show the (Tsawwassen First Nation) are going to manage their lands in a less responsible way than a non-aboriginal" government.
In fact, the only major environmental group that appears to have expressed concern about the agreement is Western Canada Wilderness Committee. Asked why that might be, committee national campaign director Joe Foy acknowledged there's too many issues and too few resources to go around among the treehugging community.
That being said though, "I believe they need to take a position on the Tsawwassen Treaty. Having taken a position, I know it's a very, very hard thing to do. It was extremely hard for the wilderness committee because of the amount of work we do with First Nations and the First Nations allies we've had since our very beginning. Not an easy decision. But bottom line is environmental groups have to make a decision and speak out."