Supreme Court of Canada Cases Strengthen Argument for Municipal Obligation to Discharge Duty to Consult: Time to Put Neskonlith to Rest


  • Angela D’Elia Decembrini Associate, First Peoples Law, Vancouver, British Columbia.
  • Shin Imai Professor Emeritus, Osgoode Hall Law School, Toronto, Ontario.



Can municipalities infringe Aboriginal or treaty rights without consulting the affected Indigenous group? In Neskonlith Indian Band v. Salmon Arm (City), the British Columbia Court of Appeal answered this question in the affirmative, finding that the city of Salmon Arm did not need to consult the Neskonlith First Nation about impacts from the construction of a shopping mall. In what was technically obiter dicta, the Court permitted the municipal project to proceed, and told the First Nation that its only recourse was to complain to the provincial government in a separate proceeding.