First Nations own the water under our laws
Mayor John Ruttan was quite correct in his original statement that we should not go into any agreement with Harmac concerning water rights without the participation and agreement of the Snuneymuxw First Nation.
His backtracking wasn't necessary. Chief Doug White is in the same position should he make a deal against the interests of his own council.
Harmac does not own the Nanaimo Lakes. Nor does Island Timberlands own Jump Lake, our city water source. They act as if they do because no one questions their right to restrict access and clearcut.
The timber and coal-mining rights to these lands were part of the land grant by the John A. Macdonald government to the Dunsmuirs for the building of the railroad. Macdonald could not give them the land because it was not covered under the Douglas Treaty, nor any subsequent treaty.
There is no legal need for our city to make any deals with Harmac or Island Timberlands. Those corporations have exploited the lands and water there for many years and made millions of dollars, most of which went to foreign shareholders.
We are well within our rights to expropriate the water resources we need.
We do need to negotiate a fair and just agreement with the First Nation. Under Canadian law they own the land and water.