North

Out-of-date land use plan stopping Fort Liard man from building farm

A man in Fort Liard, N.W.T. says his months-in-the-making plan to turn a plot of land near the community’s airport into a farm is being stopped in its tracks until land claim agreements for the area are settled.

The hamlet is waiting for ADKFN’s land claim negotiations to be settled

Jack Yeadon stands in front of a plot of land he hopes to one day turn into a farm. (Submitted by Jack Yeadon)

A man in Fort Liard, N.W.T., says his months-in-the-making plan to turn a plot of land near the community's airport into a farm is being stopped in its tracks until land claim agreements for the area are settled.

Jack Yeadon, a long-time resident, said the Department of Lands denied his lease for the plot of land where he wants to build the farm because the plot is currently zoned for commercial and garden use, not farming.

To successfully lease the land, Yeadon would have to apply to the hamlet for an exemption but because the hamlet does not currently have an updated land use plan with ministerial approval, that is impossible.

Hamlet Senior Administrative Officer John McKee said that they are working on updating their land use plan. But they will have to meet requirements in the land claims agreement made between the Acho Dene Koe First Nation (ADKFN) and the territorial and federal governments.

Until the land claim negotiations are settled, the hamlet cannot get ministerial approval for its land use plan, nor can they approve Yeadon's exemption.

Yeadon hopes to build a farm on the property that will one day provide the community with fresh produce, pork, and eggs, and he plans to fund it with money through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP).

CAP is a $3 billion investment by federal, provincial and territorial governments with the goal of growing Canada's agriculture and agri-food sector. It is a five-year partnership running from 2018-2023.

Yeadon started the process 18 months ago but isn't even close to his goal of developing the land this year.

"We've got the ground basically staked out and I've contacted people that would take down the trees," said Yeadon. 

Yeadon recognized that his issue is with the hamlet itself and understands the importance of ADKFN's ongoing negotiations.

The First Nation has been in land claim and self-government negotiations with the territorial and federal governments for a number of years. An Agreement-in-Principle was signed in February of 2014.

Initially, the negotiation process was executed in a two-phased approach which proved to be unsuccessful, they are now taking a more comprehensive approach and are currently in the process of land selection.

Because of the confidential nature of the negotiations there is no way to receive an estimated timeline of when the process will be complete. 

Until then, Yeadan cannot move forward with his farm.

"Might as well put it on a shelf now," he said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carla Ulrich

Video journalist

Carla Ulrich is a video journalist with CBC North in Fort Smith, N.W.T. Reach her at carla.ulrich@cbc.ca.

now