Opinion: Plan to co-manage public land with First Nations will close B.C. for business – by Niels Veldhuis and Jason Clemens (Financial Post – February 8, 2024)


Changes to province’s Land Act will be a death knell for investment

In a move that surprised both British Columbians and Canadians across the country, B.C.’s NDP government intends to change the province’s Land Act and essentially establish a co-management partnership with more than 200 First Nations, who will become joint landlords of more than 90 per cent of B.C. and own veto power over any land-use decisions.

The NDP, which holds 56 of 87 seats in the provincial legislature, plans to table the proposal in the spring. If passed, the revised act will represent a massive barrier to infrastructure projects in the province and a death knell for investment. That is the last thing the province needs.

Between 2010 and 2019, the decade preceding COVID, B.C. attracted less private investment per worker than the national average and far less than Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. B.C. did fare slightly better in 2021, the latest year for which data are available, but the province’s per-worker investment remains only 62 per cent of the level in the United States.

As expected, the lack of business investment has produced lower incomes. A recent report compared the median employment income of 59 large metropolitan areas in the west, 11 in Canada and the rest in the United States. Of the bottom 10 cities by earned income, five were in B.C., with Vancouver, the province’s commercial hub, ranking only 47th at C$37,300, barely half what’s earned in top-ranked Silicon Valley’s C$73,895.

For the rest of this column: https://financialpost.com/opinion/co-manage-public-land-first-nations-close-bc-business