The Lake Cowichan First Nation is hoping the province will transfer a 30-hectare parcel of Crown land located within the Cowichan Valley Regional District to their ownership and control as part of the First Nation’s ongoing treaty process.
The Town of Lake Cowichan agreed at last week’s council meeting to sign a letter stating it has no objection concerning the initiative to the province.
The property, known as DL 27, is adjacent to the First Nation’s reserve and is bisected by Youbou Road.
A letter to council written by the First Nation’s Chief Councillor Georgina Livingstone said the property is ideally situated to provide for the future expansion of the band’s community.
“[The Lake Cowichan First Nation] has undertaken extensive research and analysis over the last 10 years to determine the Crown lands that best fit the objectives of the community,” she said.
“DL 27, due to its adjacency and proximity to the current reserve lands, was a natural fit. Additionally, there is cultural importance of this site to various members (past and present) that have lived off the land since time memorial.”
The Lake Cowichan First Nation, also known as Ts’uubaa-asatx, is one of five member nations of the Hul’qumi’num Treaty Group that is currently negotiating a treaty with the province and Canada under the B.C. Treaty Process.
Under the First Nation’s proposal for DL 27, the province would transfer fee-simple title to the land to a company owned by the band.
Once transferred, the property would remain subject to local government bylaws for at least 10 years, unless a final treaty is concluded prior to that time and the property becomes treaty settlement lands.
Aaron Hamilton, the First Nation’s operations manager, said the initiative is just in its very early stages, with one of the first steps to ensure that the town had no objections to the proposed transfer of the land.
He said there are no plans for the property at this time, if the province agrees to the land transfer, but DL 27 is also adjacent to the busy Laketown Ranch and the First Nation might consider development plans related to that.
“The Lake Cowichan First Nation will begin a strategic planning process to determine what would be the best use of our lands within the next six months, and the uses of DL 27 could be considered at that time,” Hamilton said.
“This is the first piece of property we are looking at acquiring as part of our treaty process, but there could be others as we move forward and we’ll be working on that.”
As for the status of overall treaty process of the Hul’qumi’num Treaty Group, Hamilton said it’s not easy to gauge.
“Each process with the five First Nations is different, and all are operating at different speeds,” he said.