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

Final key components for Johnson Street Bridge installed this weekend in Victoria

Dynamic Beast crane barge arrives back in town on Friday

Metchosin supports moving to three-year municipal term

Some councillors say four years is too much of a commitment

Police seek owner of sailboat beached in Oak Bay

Residents reminded to steer clear of the vessel

Wind warning in effect for Greater Victoria

Strong winds could reach up to 80 km/hr along coastal areas

Heavy snowfall closes Mount Washington for the day

Road to ski resort deemed unsafe, “high avalanche danger”

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Philadelphia Eagles headed to Super Bowl

After routing the Minnesota Vikings 38-7, they will face Tom Brady and the New England Patriots

VIDEO: Dramatic video shows return of rescued B.C. snowboarders

Two snowboarders were rescued near Rossland, B.C. on Sunday after being lost overnight.

Tom Brady leads Patriots back to Super Bowl, top Jaguars 24-20

New England to face winner of Sunday night’s game between Minnesota and Philadelphia on Feb. 4

Vessel washed ashore in Campbell River during last night’s storm

A vessel appears to have gotten loose and washed to shore on… Continue reading

Liberals quietly tap experts to write new paternity leave rules

Ideas include creating an entirely new leave benefit similar to one that exists in Quebec

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Average number of days with heavy rain or snow across Canada has been outside norm since spring 2013

Final phase of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy trials to kick off in B.C.

Doctors hope to get psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy legalized in Canada and the U.S. by 2021

WHL winning streak ends at four in Kelowna for Victoria

Royals lose 8-4 as Rockets explode offensively

Most Read