Thursday, November 27, 2008

Port Authority optimistic over tone of discussion with Metlaktla

While they aren't saying very much about the details, or giving any kind of indication as to how it may all work out, the Prince Rupert Port Authority is expressing a bit of optimism that the negotiations with the Metlakatla First Nation are progressing forward.

The Port's impressions of the pace of discussion seems to tie into that of Metlkatla's, that after the First Nation community's leaders expressed optimism in a successful resolution to their concerns, perhaps as early as the end of this year.

The Daily News outlined the Port's position in Wednesday's paper.

Port shares Metlakatla's optimism over an agreement
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pages one and three

The Prince Rupert Port Authority is staying mum over the details of negotiations between the Metlakatla First Nation band and the port, though the general sentiment is that they are optimistic an agreement will be reached.

How soon is another matter, as the PRPA would not be pinned down on definitives, but according to PRPA's Director of Communications Barry Bartlett, the port is feeling good about the negotiations moving forward.

"Generally, our position on that is that the PRPA is in a discussion with the Coast Tsimshian and we remain optimistic that we can reach an agreement that is mutually beneficial," said Bartlett.
Bartlett said that because the discussion was still ongoing the port would remain working quietly.
Metlakatla and Lax Kw'alaams, known collectively as Coast Tsimshian, have been in litigation with the federal government since 2005 when they considered the federal government failed to consult with them when it approved Phase 1 of the Fairview Terminal Expansion.

The bands have concerns about Phase two of the port expansion because they fear it will disrupt archeological remains that prove the Coast Tsimshian have been on Kaien Island for 5,000 years.

Numerous archaeologists including Dr. George MacDonald, OC, founding director of the Canadian Museum of Civilization and director of the Bill Reid Centre at Simon Fraser University, said archaeological sites at Prince Rupert harbour are unique on the West Coast of North America in terms of the volume of middens, cultural artifacts, and human remains.

Since the beginning of litigation, the port has been in discussion with the Coast Tsimshian seeking an agreement that would include environmental concerns, employment opportunities and archeological protection.

On Monday, Metlakatla chief Harold Leighton reported that he expected an agreement between the port and Metlakatla to be reached by the end of the year. When pressed, Bartlett remained firm that he could not divulge the port's view at this time.

"The negotiations are about their (Metlakatla's) expectations but we really can't comment on that at this time," repeated Bartlett.

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