The Songhees Nation is celebrating its first concrete land agreement since negotiations began with the province nearly 20 years ago.
The roughly 500 Songhees citizens will receive three Crown land parcels in the deal: a 0.14-hectare site at Admirals and Esquimalt roads, currently occupied by a B.C. liquor store; the 0.04-hectare Provincial Capital Commission headquarters on Pandora Avenue; and a 0.10-hectare parking lot on Michigan Street between Parry and Powell streets in James Bay.
“Acquiring these key commercial properties opens the door for the Songhees Nation to enjoy economic benefits within our territory,” said Songhees Coun. Gary Albany. “We look forward to managing these lands and the acquisition of more.”
No decisions have been made yet on the disposition of the properties. But the Songhees will be subject to local taxation, and if the band develops any of the sites, zoning bylaws and provincial and federal laws.
At the signing of the agreement at the legislature on Tuesday, minister of aboriginal relations and reconciliation Ida Chong said the agreement was a long time coming.
“Songhees Nation is working diligently to develop jobs and other economic opportunities that will contribute to a prosperous future for its citizens and the surrounding region,” Chong said.
The Songhees are currently in the fourth of six stages of the B.C. treaty process, and base their land claims on the original Douglas Treaties signed between 1850 and 1854.
Five First Nations, known collectively as the Te’mexw Treaty Association, signed agreements with the province for transfer of Crown land.
The association includes T’Sou-ke (Sooke), Scia’new (Beecher Bay), Snaw-naw-as (Nanoose) Malahat and Songhees Nations.