Vancouver Island First Nation blocks highway over logging dispute
Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation has blocked Highway 28 where it crosses the Ahaminaquus Indian Reserve
A Vancouver Island highway is being blocked by the Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation, due to a dispute over logging traffic.
Highway 28 runs from Campbell River to Gold River, passing through Ahaminaquus Indian Reserve Number 12.
At issue is logging company Western Forest Products' use of the road to extract timber, for which the nation says it receives inadequate compensation.
Band officials say they will no longer allow logging traffic to continue to "illegally trespass" on their land.
The First Nation's council of chiefs said in a statement that they're tired of watching their natural resources get trucked illegally across their reserve.
"[Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation] has seen no benefit and has received no compensation from [Western Forest Products] for this unauthorized use of the reserve lands at any time, and the road has been in trespass since the late 1960s," the statement says.
The statement goes on to claim their legal right to close the road stems from the Indian Act, 18(1), which they say gives them the authority to control all use and access to their reserve lands.
No one from Western Forest Products or the Ministry of Transportation was available to speak, but in written statements representatives of both said they were engaging in good faith dialogue with First Nation representatives and hoped to find an amicable solution as soon as possible.