First Nations develop a vision for the future through Comprehensive Community Planning

"Comprehensive Community Plan (CCP) is something I think every First Nation should consider," says Michael Harcourt, a commissioner for the BC Treaty Commission. "I know from years of experience as a politician that you need a plan to succeed. Through effective planning communities can establish a vision for the future and implement projects to achieve that vision. Community planning is also essential for both treaty negotiations and implementation."

First Nations are using CCP to determine priorities and develop plans that address both near-term and future needs and aspirations of their community members. CCPs help create sustainable communities through a holistic planning approach where all aspects of the community are considered – economic, environmental, governance, cultural and social. As the CCP planning process takes place, information is gathered in each of these areas and is used to develop a vision for the next 20 to 30 years. CCP integrates and links to all other plans the community has produced and helps to ensure that community projects and programs make the best use of resources.

Community involvement is an essential element of CCP. By engaging membership directly, the community plan that is created truly reflects the community's values, needs and goals. This will ultimately lead to a more relevant and sustainable community plan.

In 2004, four BC First Nations – Squiala, Okanagan, We Wai Kai and Lytton – partnered with Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) to pilot CCP processes in their communities. These communities were selected because they represented a spectrum of BC First Nations, in terms of size, geography, treaty status and planning approaches.

"For decades, communities have expressed enthusiasm for holistic, or comprehensive, community planning," says BC Region Acting Regional Director Jennifer Guscott. "INAC BC will continue to work towards integrating federal government support for CCP and encouraging First Nations communities to begin, continue, and complete such planning."

The stories of the four pilot communities are highlighted here. Just as each community is unique, each project offers a different perspective on what can be proposed – and achieved – through Comprehensive Community Planning. Each CCP is driven by the community it represents, and is the result of dedication on the part of all involved, from elders and youth to band leadership. CCP is helping British Columbia's First Nation communities plan the best future possible.

Sustainability principles drive CCP

INAC 's Sustainable Development Strategy (SDS) forms the foundation of CCP. The Strategy is based on the principle that development should meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. This philosophy fits well with Aboriginal traditions that view the present generation as custodians who care for Mother Earth today and for future generations.

The vision of the strategy is that many First Nations communities will be healthy and safe models of sustainability within two generations. The pilot projects outlined here showcase First Nations communities in BC who endeavour to reach this goal through implementing CCPs.

Benefits of CCP

Once in place, an effective Comprehensive Community Plan can:

  • Empower the community
  • Improve performance
  • Build teamwork and expertise
  • Coordinate future development
  • Protect resources
  • Celebrate traditions and culture
  • Promote healing and reconciliation
  • Create economic opportunities