Community based land use planning in the Far North of Ontario

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Occupying 42% of the province’s land mass, the Far North is a vast and largely intact part of Ontario. It is also home to 24,000 people, mostly First Nations, living in 34 communities who have a deep relationship with the land. Rich in cultural and natural values, the Far North has ecological systems that are vital to all of Ontario, and the world. The area is also rich in natural resources with demand for these resources increasing, particularly in the area known as the Ring of Fire, site of the largest chromite discovery in North America. In 2008, the government of Ontario announced the launch of the Far North Land Use Planning Initiative, a process whereby First Nations and Ontario work jointly on making decisions about how land and water will be used into the future. In 2010, Ontario passed the Far North Act, the legislative framework for this planning. It enshrines in law the need for both First Nations and Ontario to approve a community based land use plan and requires that once a land use plan is completed, activities on the land must be consistent with those plans. Through the Far North Land Use Planning Initiative, Ontario is making progress on planning. Four plans have been completed, and many more are being prepared. This presentation will highlight how the Ministry of Natural Resources of Forestry and First Nations have developed a consensus-based process that is built on a foundation of increasing respect and trust for each other’s perspective and knowledge.

Roy Sidders