Robert’s column

Robert Barron column: Land code opens new doors for Cowichan Tribes

First Nation given control of band land for first time

Cowichan Tribes Chief William Seymour is right to be excited that members of his First Nation have voted to adopt a land code.

Now that the majority of those who voted gave the green light to adopt the land code in a vote last week, the federal government will no longer have a significant say in how the Cowichan Tribes reserve lands are managed.

That means the First Nation can now explore business, housing and other opportunities that were much more difficult, if not impossible, to achieve under the old land management system.

That’s because Cowichan Tribes would have to wait for such proposals to go through the often long and arduous process of cutting through all the bureaucratic red tape that only governments can come up with before they could even get a spade in the ground, which saw many developers walk away from much-needed projects on band land over the years.

One doesn’t have to look far to see what can happen when First Nations adopt land codes, with more than 40 in B.C. having done so to date.

In June, the operations manager of the Lake Cowichan First Nation, Aaron Hamilton, invited me up to the band’s land to see what has been accomplished, and what is planned, since the First Nation adopted its land code in 2017.

He took me to the land where the band will soon begin construction of a long-planned residential development on waterfront property on North Shore Road.

Hamilton said the development will be market-driven and the units will be available to both aboriginals and non-aboriginals when the project is complete.

He told me that planning and work on the project began in earnest after the band voted to adopt the land code, and the First Nation is not looking back now that it’s been given the latitude to make its own development decisions.

The residential development will be constructed in an area that the First Nation plans to transform into a variety of economic generators, not only for the band, but also for the overall community.

That has already begun with the 2017 opening of the First Nation’s Kaatza Adventures, a rental company that deals in kayaks, paddle boards, paddle boats and other water craft, and plans also call for the eventual construction of a marina and a health and wellness centre in the same area.

“We’ve also recently completed our new $700,000 waterfront walkway, which was constructed with a grant from the Building Canada Fund, that also has a 30-foot viewing platform and is linked to the extension of the water and sewer services to the area that was completed in preparation for the development of the new residential development,” Hamilton excitedly told me at the time.

A little north of the Cowichan Valley, near Ladysmith, the Stz’uminus First Nation began building Oyster Bay, a 65-acre commercial, recreational and tourism development that includes housing, hotels and retail, on their land shortly after the band voted for its own land code in 2013.

That project is well underway and is already showing benefits for the First Nation.

Chief Seymour also hopes that the adoption of the land code will bolster new opportunities for the more than 4,900 Cowichan Tribe members as well.

Let’s wish them good luck in their efforts.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

VIDEO: Internet famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer explores Vancouver Island

Gurdeep Pandher spreads joy through dance, forms cross-cultural connections amid pandemic

Mary Lowther column: Time to plan the winter garden

Weeds have gotten away on me, I’ve just finished laying out my soaker hoses

Sarah Simpson Column: Finding nature at home

It was time to call in reinforcements.

Shady Lady: legendary Catalina touches down on Cowichan Lake

Two flying boats test the waters west of Youbou

Under new ownership, Cowichan’s Isles prepare for 2020-21

The Isles have gone through some ups and downs in recent seasons

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

Unofficial holidays: the weird and wonderful things people celebrate around the world

On any given day of the year, there are several strange, silly or serious holidays to observe

Missing teen visiting Courtenay found safe

She had last been seen going for a walk on Aug. 6

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

Fitness non-profit challenges citizens to invent a game to be physically active

The campaign was launched after a study showed only 4.8 per cent of children and youths in Canada met required standards of the 24-hour movement guidelines

Gene editing debate takes root with organic broccoli, new UBC research shows

Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables with origins in this scientific haze

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

New mothers with COVID-19 should still breastfeed: Canada’s top doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam made the recommendation during World Breastfeeding Awareness Week

Most Read