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Metro Vancouver's Board of Directors today approved a consolidation of the Lower Mainland Treaty Advisory Committee (LMTAC) with Metro Vancouver's existing Aboriginal Relations Program. The consolidation will allow the regional district and its member municipalities to more effectively address the growing range of interests common to local governments and First Nations. It reflects the increased emphasis the Metro Vancouver Board has placed on enhancing its relationship with aboriginal communities and resolving the technical issues involved with servicing agreements. "Our relations with First Nations continue to evolve in scope and complexity," said Metro Vancouver Board Chair Lois Jackson. "By combining the work that LMTAC does with our inhouse Aboriginal Relations Program, we avoid duplication of effort, better position the Metro Board and its members in decision-making processes, create economic efficiencies, and clearly underline our commitment to addressing First Nations issues," Chair Jackson said. LMTAC currently serves a broad coordinating role for municipalities in Metro Vancouver and adjacent regional districts in regard to key First Nations issues, including rights and title claims. It is the largest of 19 Treaty Advisory Committees in BC and its membership comprises Metro Vancouver, the Sunshine Coast Regional District, the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District, 23 municipalities from within the three districts, and four observer organizations. TACs were formed in 1993 by way of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Union of BC Municipalities and the Province of BC. The MOU recognized the unique and special local government interest in negotiations and sought to ensure local governments were full participants in the BC Treaty Process. "Over the past 18 years, LMTAC has provided very valuable advice and guidance to local government in both Metro Vancouver and adjacent regional districts," said Director Ralph Drew, who chairs LMTAC. "Our new approach will continue that critical role, and provide even better support for the participation of local and regional governments on provincial negotiating teams and at the table as treaty discussions are pursued." Metro Vancouver Director Kim Baird, Chief of the Tsawwassen First Nation, expressed her support for the consolidation, noting it is "...critical for relationship building as well as for the Aboriginal Rights and Title reconciliation process." Metro Vancouver will work with the LMTAC executive to manage the transition to a new and consolidated program.