EDITORIAL: Land settlement a solid next step

Agreeing to give valuable properties to First Nations will help create self-sufficiency

Was the B.C. Liberal government’s trotting out of local First Nations leaders to sign another treaty this week a case of pre-election grandstanding?

Or was it the legitimate announcement of the latest significant step in the B.C. treaty process?

Probably a little of both. Regardless of the timing of the transfer of lands to five First Nations, including the Songhees, aboriginal communities stand to benefit greatly from the deal signed Tuesday at the B.C. legislature.

The properties signed over to the Songhees, for example, include the current site of a government liquor store at Esquimalt and Admirals roads, the Provincial Capital Commission office building on Pandora Avenue and a parking lot in James Bay.

The deal does not exempt the bands from paying property tax, but the acquisition price is right. The potential economic foothold the Songhees and others gain as landlords, developers or vendors could be significant – they can manage the properties how they see fit, within local rules and regulations.

The key word here is potential. Governments, business and individuals can help empower our aboriginal communities and enhance self-sufficiency through the transfer of lands, offering business coaching services, buying handcrafted products or even mentoring youth. From there, First Nations need to take the next steps themselves.

It’s already happening in some areas. The Songhees are well into the construction of their $16-million health, administration and recreation centre in Esquimalt. And they are partners with Esquimalt Nation in Salish Sea Industrial Services, a marine-based company.

Adding a trio of revenue properties to the mix – if managed well – could further stabilize our aboriginal communities through creating long-term employment for people who have struggled to find work.

The first concrete land agreement in 20 years for the Songhees shows progress in the willingness of the province and First Nations leaders to do what it takes to move closer to finalizing settlements. It also shows more trust in First Nations that they can be good stewards of urban lands, not just those around reserves.

Just Posted

Celebration of Life hosted for 29 Victoria trees set to be removed

Community Trees Matter Network hosting “goodbye and thank you” for trees on Fort Street

Head of Greater Victoria builders warns of changing construction climate

VRBA director Casey Edge also questions Saanich’s commitment towards housing affordability

Saanich police are looking for a man who exposed himself Saturday night

The incident exposure happened at the intersection of Feltham Road and Shelbourne Street

Saanich councillor raises the possibility of charging for plugging in electric vehicles

Coun. Colin Plant said funds raised could help build EV infrastructure

Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit returns to Royal BC Museum

Exhibit will feature award-winning photographers from around the world

Keep focus on helping Canadians at home, Trudeau tells MPs at start of meeting

Trudeau said the Liberals will offer Canadians hope amid issue like climate change and global tensions

Pettersson returns to lead Canucks to 3-2 win over Red Wings

Vancouver’s super rookie has 2 points in first game back after knee injury

POLL: Should people have to license their cats?

The Victoria Natural History Society has sent letters to 13 municipalities in… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 15

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Support pours in for Vancouver Island couple whose home was destroyed by massive blaze

GoFundMe page reached $10,000 in one day for soon-to-be parents

Skaters stranded in Saint John, NB, amid storm on last day of championships

More than half of the flights out of the city’s airport were cancelled due to the weather

Call for tighter bail rules after Saudi sex-crime suspect vanishes

Mohammed Zuraibi Alzoabi was facing charges related to alleged sexual assault, criminal harassment, assault and forcible confinement of a woman

2019 Canadian Whisky Awards’ big winners announced

Awards held in conjunction with Victoria Whisky Festival

12 poisoned eagles found in Cowichan Valley

Improper disposal of euthanized animal suspected

Most Read