A man from Fort Liard, Northwest Territories, says his months-long plan to turn a plot of land near the community’s airport into a farm is stalled until agreements on land claims for the area are settled.
Longtime resident Jack Yeadon said the Lands Department turned down his lease for the land he wanted to build the farm on because the land is currently zoned for commercial and gardening purposes, not for the agriculture.
In order to successfully lease the land, Yeadon would need to seek an exemption from the Hamlet, but as the Hamlet currently does not have an updated land use plan with Ministerial approval, this is impossible.
The Hamlet’s chief administrative officer, John McKee, said they were working on updating their land use plan. But they will have to meet the requirements of the land claims agreement between the Acho Dene Koe First Nation (ADKFN) and the territorial and federal governments.
Until land claims negotiations are settled, the Hamlet cannot obtain ministerial approval for its land use plan, nor 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 to grow Canada’s agriculture and agri-food sector. This is a five-year partnership running from 2018 to 2023.
Yeadon started the process 18 months ago but is not even close to his goal of developing the pitch this year.
“We basically staked out the land and I contacted people who would cut down the trees,” Yeadon said.
Yeadon acknowledged that his issue was with Hamlet itself and understood the importance of the ongoing ADKFN negotiations.
The First Nation has been in land claims and self-government negotiations with the territorial and federal governments for a number of years. A tentative agreement was signed in February 2014.
Initially the negotiation process was executed in a two phase approach which proved unsuccessful, they are now taking a more comprehensive approach and are currently in the land selection process.
Due to the confidential nature of the negotiations, there is no way to receive an estimate of when the process will be completed.
Until then, Yeadan cannot move forward with his farm.
“Might as well put it on a shelf now,” he said.