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

Oak Bay father charged with double murder takes the stand

Andrew Berry pleaded not guilty to the December 2017 deaths of his two daughters

Both suspects arrested from Oak Bay armed robbery

Perpetrators allegedly used a firearm to rob Oak Bay Avenue resident

Victoria contractors file civil claims for work on Sooke Tim Hortons, Petro Canada

Contractors file civil suits against Petromaxx, T’Sou-ke First Nation

VIDEO: Title of 25th Bond movie is ‘No Time to Die’

The film is set to be released in April 2020

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of Aug. 23

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

POLL: Should there be a ban on gas-powered leaf blowers?

We’ve all heard them, and most likely cursed them under our breath.… Continue reading

Coroner’s inquest into fatal police shooting in Port Hardy begins in Campbell River

James Reginald Butters, 24, killed in 2015 after RCMP responded to call of male uttering threats

New ‘Matrix’ film set with Keanu Reeves and Lana Wachowski

Fourth installment to feature Reeves as Neo and Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity

Catholic church buys $7.5M equestrian facility in B.C., plans ‘agri-retreat’ centre

Church hopes to grow crops, host students and others on Bradner property

New regulations require training for B.C. addiction recovery homes

Inspections, standards replace ‘wild west,’ Judy Darcy says

Pembina buying Kinder Morgan Canada and U.S. portion of Cochin pipeline

The deal also includes an Edmonton storage and terminal business and Vancouver Wharves

Trans Mountain gives contractors 30 days to get workers, supplies ready for pipeline

Crown corporation believes the expansion project could be in service by mid-2022

Most Read