Songhees Nation excited about business options in Esquimalt, Victoria

Songhees Nation Chief Ron Sam likes their prospects for economic development relating to properties in Esquimalt and Victoria. - Sharon Tiffin/News staff
Songhees Nation Chief Ron Sam likes their prospects for economic development relating to properties in Esquimalt and Victoria.
— image credit: Sharon Tiffin/News staff

Economic development will continue to charge forward for the Songhees Nation in 2014, says its chief.

With the completion of a $24-million Wellness Centre this week and the ongoing operation of a shipbuilding training facility on its land, the Songhees are setting their sights on two more potential economic drivers.

The first comes in the form of a high-profile lot at the corner of Admirals and Esquimalt Road. The property, formerly home to a government liquor store, was transferred to the Songhees Nation by the province last August as part of a land treaty agreement.

A request for proposals for the site went out in November, said Songhees Chief Ron Sam. “It’s in a key location … The requests for proposals really opened our eyes on the interest out there,” he said.

Songhees have hired an external consultant to oversee the process and will likely choose a successful bidder in the coming months, Sam added.

The second project involves a possible agreement to purchase a 1.71-hectare parcel of land in Victoria’s Rock Bay, in partnership with Esquimalt Nation.

Last week, the federal government announced the final phase of environmental cleanup on the former coal gasification site, set for completion by January 2016.

More than $50 million has already been spent to remove contaminated soil from the site.

“We haven’t purchased (the property) yet,” Sam said. “If we do purchase it, that’s where we’d put our economic team together. And (with) the partnership with Esquimalt Nation, the opportunities are endless.”

The Rock Bay property would remain subject to city industrial zoning bylaws after purchase, Sam said.

“You hear a lot about the City of Victoria wanting to focus on theatre, entertainment-type things, but those discussions are a ways away.”

– with files from Kyle Wells

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