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Replace Indian Act: AFN national chief
CBC News - Tuesday, July 20, 2010
The Canadian Press
First Nations leaders stand during Tuesday's opening of the Assembly
of First Nations annual meeting in Winnipeg. (CBC)
The head of the Assembly of First Nations is calling for a new
relationship with the federal government and an end to the Indian
Act within five years.
Shawn Atleo told the assembly's annual meeting in Winnipeg on
Tuesday that federal laws governing aboriginal people have led to
high rates of suicide, poverty and health problems.
Atleo said he'd like to see
aboriginal people get out "from under" the Indian Act and strike a
new relationship with the government on land claims, resource
sharing and education.
time to boldly suggest that within two to five years, the Indian Act
will no longer be part of our lives?" he said as part
of the opening address of the annual assembly.
'We will once and for all work to dismantle the unnecessary
machinery of the Department of Indian Affairs, which only
perpetuates our poverty.'
—Shawn Atleo, Assembly of First NationsThe national chief said
aboriginal people are still fighting for health care, land and other
things promised in treaties more than a century ago.
Instead of having legislation or an entire department governing
aboriginal lives, Atleo said the federal government should set up
agencies to ensure that those promised items are delivered.
"We will once and for all work to dismantle the unnecessary
machinery of the Department of Indian Affairs, which only
perpetuates our poverty," he said.
"The department then will give way to efficient entities like a
ministry of First Nations-Crown relations … and a treaty rights
tribunal," he said.
He also wants native people to get more funding from non-government
sources, for example, through agreements with corporations.
Drummers perform at the grand entry for the start of the Assembly of
First Nations annual meeting. (CBC)
"At this assembly alone we will advance partnerships to build
houses, to create jobs and to better support our students in
school," Atleo said.
Star contractor consulted
AFN leaders will announce a deal with a major Canadian home builder
Wednesday to address some of the severe housing shortages on
reserves. The organization said it is consulting with Canadian
professional contractor Mike Holmes and his company The Holmes
Holmes is famous for his televised home-renovation show, Holmes on
Atleo, a 43-year-old businessman from British Columbia, was elected
national chief of the AFN a year ago.
About 2,000 chiefs and other delegates from 633 Canadian First
Nations are in Winnipeg for the annual general meeting, which is
being held in the city for the first time in 16 years.
Much of the discussion will focus on how to ensure that aboriginal
rights to land, resources and self-governance are respected.
'Let's start making noise and demand a seat in Parliament, and
demand a party in Parliament … where our people can be viewed as
equals, as original land owners.'
—Morris Swan-Shannacappo, Southern Chiefs Organization"We are all
too quiet. Residential schools quieted us," said Morris Swan-Shannacappo,
grand chief of the Southern Chiefs Organization, which represents
First Nations communities across southern Manitoba.
"Now let's start making noise and demand a seat in Parliament, and
demand a party in Parliament … where our people can be viewed as
equals, as original land owners."
The event is expected to draw 6,000 people to the city and create
$2.5 million in economic activity in Winnipeg.
In addition to the policy meetings at the Winnipeg Convention Centre
from July 20-22, there will be several cultural and entertainment
events. There will be a three-day international powwow at The Forks
national historic site, a spiritual summit that is expected to draw
up to 4,000 people and a rodeo at the Swan Lake First Nation just
west of the city in Headingley.
Getting a handle on unfinished treaty business
Terrace Standard - July 20, 2010
In British Columbia, treaty making is unfinished business that is
costing the provincial economy billions of dollars because of
continuing uncertainty over ownership of millions of acres of land.
This uncertainty is also standing in the way of First Nation
communities achieving renewed self government and self-sufficiency.
It has been a rocky road for aboriginals that dates back several
hundred years. But with treaties that road becomes an avenue to a
prosperous future that includes economic opportunities for all
Now with two treaties recently signed by First Nations in British
Columbia, attention is being focused on the treaty process and its
role in generating much needed business development, infrastructure
and jobs all over the province.
But for the average British Columbian, what does it all mean? Some
say treaties are a relic of the past and for many it is not clear
how they affect the present. To better understand the treaty process
you have to begin with the rights of First Nations and how it
applies to treaties today.
There are several key reasons for treaties, which will affect both
aboriginals and non-aboriginals. First, it is the law. The Crown has
an obligation to negotiate with First Nations because the indigenous
people had already owned, occupied and governed on North American
soil for thousands of years before European settlers began arriving.
When the early Europeans began to settle in
eastern North America, Britain recognized that First Nations who
were already living here had title to the land. The Royal
Proclamation of 1763 declared that only the British Crown could
acquire lands from First Nations, and only by treaty. Unfortunately
this didn’t happen in B.C.
In the early 1850s, British colonial governor James Douglas
initially negotiated 14 land purchases on Vancouver Island – known
today as the Douglas treaties. However, by the end of that decade
the colony had run out of money and he began setting out reserves
for each tribe and allowing aboriginals who wanted to farm to
acquire Crown land on the same terms as settlers.
The situation deteriorated for First Nations upon his retirement.
The government took away the right to acquire Crown land, reduced
the size of reserves, denied the land had ever been owned and paid
no compensation for the loss of traditional lands and resources.
Over the following decades, First Nations leaders repeatedly lobbied
the federal and provincial governments for compensation and
recognition of their rights to their lands. They presented letters
and petitions, demonstrated and protested, and met with government
officials. With the exception of Treaty 8 signed in 1899 with the
federal government which covered the northeast corner of BC into
Alberta, First Nation’s requests were persistently dismissed and
First Nations’ demands for treaties intensified in the early part of
the twentieth century, although their efforts were hampered under
the Indian Act, which banned land claims activity. It was not until
1951 that First Nations were legally allowed to raise funds to
pursue land claims.
However, it took until the early 1990s before the federal and
provincial governments sat down with First Nations in BC to
negotiate treaties. It was then the blueprint for the treaty process
was established and the BC Treaty
Commission was created by agreement of Canada, BC and the First
The existence of First Nations, before European settlers, and with
continuing aboriginal rights, has been recognized through a number
of legal cases.
Sophie Pierre was appointed chief commissioner of the BC Treaty
Commission in April 2009. For information about the treaty process,
Crown Land Gravel
Pit application out Westside Road near Fintry BC and next to La Casa Strata and
Resort of approx. 500 homes.
North Westside and other Central Okanagan West areas, would pay tax for the
WFN portion of Director earnings.
This Spring 2008 North Westside Communities News article states:
While the WFN residents pay a part of the annual stipend and first supplement
through taxes to the WFN to pay for Regional Services on WFN land, the $2,100
supplement would be paid by the ratepayers of the area outside of the WFN.
Is it a tax or a regulatory charge?
*** This is just a snippet
Judgements of the Supreme Court of Canada
Citation:Westbank First Nation v. British Columbia Hydro and
Power Authority,  3 S.C.R. 134
Date:September 10, 1999
Indexed as: Westbank First Nation v. British Columbia Hydro and
File No.: 26450.
Hearing and judgment: June 21, 1999
Reasons delivered: September 10, 1999
Section 125 of the Constitution Act, 1867 is one of the tools
found in the Constitution that ensures the proper functioning of
Canada’s federal system. It advances the goals of federalism and
democracy by according a degree of operational space to each level
of government, free from interference by the other. It prohibits one
level of government from taxing the property of the other. However,
it does not prohibit the levying of user fees or other regulatory
charges properly enacted within the government’s sphere of
Although in today’s regulatory environment, many charges will have
elements of taxation and elements of regulation,
the central task for the court is to determine
whether the levy’s primary purpose is, in pith and substance: (1) to
tax, i.e., to raise revenue for general purposes; (2) to finance or
constitute a regulatory scheme, i.e., to be a regulatory charge or
to be ancillary or adhesive to a regulatory scheme; or (3) to charge
for services directly rendered, i.e., to be a user fee.
to determine whether the impugned charge is a “tax” or a “regulatory
charge” for the purposes of s. 125, several key questions must be
asked. Is the charge: (1) compulsory and enforceable by law;
(2) imposed under the authority of the legislature; (3) levied by a
public body; (4) intended for a public purpose; and (5) unconnected
to any form of a regulatory scheme? If the answers to all of
these questions are affirmative, then the levy in question will
generally be described as a tax.
The levies are properly described as being, in pith and substance,
taxation enacted under s. 91(3) of the Constitution Act, 1867. They
are enforceable by law, imposed under the authority of the
legislature, and levied by a public body for a public purpose. The
appellant has not demonstrated that the levies are connected to a
“regulatory scheme” which could preclude the application of s. 125.
The charge does not form any part of a detailed code of regulation.
No costs of the regulatory scheme have been identified, to which the
revenues from these charges are tied. The appellant does not seek to
influence the respondent’s behaviour in any way with these charges.
There is no relationship between the respondent and any regulation
to which these charges adhere. Although the Indian Act is
legislation in relation to “Indians, and Lands reserved for the
Indians”, this does not, in itself, create a “regulatory scheme” in
the sense required by the Constitution.
As these taxes are imposed on the respondent, which it is conceded
is an agent of the provincial Crown, s. 125 is engaged.
taxation and assessment by‑laws are accordingly inapplicable to the
WFN approves shopping centre
by Castanet Staff - Story: 55643 - Jul 9, 2010
A proposed new shopping centre just south of the Westbank First
Nation Administration Office has been given the green light.
WFN membership voted overwhelmingly in favour of the project during
a special referendum Thursday.
Members approved a lease of 10.18 acres of community held lands at
Westside Road and Highway 97 which will allow for the construction
of a shopping centre development says WFN Chief Robert Louie.
In the deal, WFN will retain partial ownership of the shopping
centre and will have a role in major decision making during and
after construction of the project.
Community approval is required for leasing all of community-held
lands pursuant to WFN’s Constitution.
“We had a really good voter turn-out at referendum," says Chief
“With 90% of votes being in favour of the deal, we’re satisfied that
our community is ready and willing to proceed with the project.”
Construction of the shopping centre is expected to begin later this
summer with an anticipated completion of September, 2011.
Only one tenant has been confirmed to date. Landmark Cinemas will
construct a six-screen movie theatre as part of the shopping centre.
June 10, 2010 Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board
There being no further business the
meeting was adjourned In Camera at 11:10 a.m. Rise and report at
The Regional Board rose from In Camera to report on the
b) June 10, 2010 In Camera meeting: Westbank First Nation/RDCO
Memorandum of Understanding - Proposed Hydraulic McCulloch) Lake,
Trepanier Creek and Black Knight Mountain Regional Parks.
The Board approved completion of the
of Understanding with Westbank First Nation for the future
acquisition and management of Hydraulic (McCulloch) Lake, Trepanier
Creek and Black Knight Mountain Regional Parks.
Homeowner charged $35,000 by archeologists
CBC News - By Kathy Tomlinson - Tuesday, April 20,
Vancouver Island resident unaware her land held
aboriginal bones, artifacts
..Archeologists worked on site for several days last year, charging
as much as $85 an hour. (CBC)
A property owner and her family from Vancouver Island are up in arms
over a $35,000 bill she was held responsible for after her land was
registered as a heritage site.
"We felt invaded," said Louise Allix.
Allix was required by law to hire an archeology team last year — to
dig up the family property — before she was allowed to build a house
just outside of Parksville. Bones and aboriginal artifacts were
found, but her son said not much has been done with that discovery.
"It's just a box full of artifacts — that aren’t even on display,"
said Tim Allix. "If the B.C. government had to pay $35,000 for this,
they wouldn't do it. They're saying 'Ah, let's just pass this on to
Under the province's Heritage Conservation
Act, landowners whose property has been designated a heritage site
cannot build until archeologists have done an assessment and removed
any First Nations artifacts or human remains — at the landowner's
Individual violators face possible fines of up to $2,000 or six
months in jail for altering a heritage site and up to $50,000 or two
years in jail for damaging one.
"I never would have imagined that there would be bones under the
ground," said Louise, who has lived on the property for 40 years, in
a neighbourhood where there are several other homes.
"We had a garden here and dug it up all the time and never found
No system to inform landowners
Many B.C. residents don't know their land
has been designated, because there is no system in place to inform
them. The province keeps the database of sites that are
reported to them, by First Nations and other interested parties, but
that information is not shown on land title documents.
Louise Allix and her son Tim feel they should not have to pay
$35,000 for the archeological dig on family property. (CBC)
There are now 38,000 registered sites with some 2,000 new ones added
every year. The minister responsible, Kevin
Krueger, acknowledged that the lack of disclosure has been a
"It's an ongoing issue," said Krueger. "We are carefully working
through how to address this whole issue."
Beginning in 1965, the Allix family lived in a house on one of three
lots, near the Englishman River — an area where the Nanoose First
Nation lived several hundred years ago.
In 2007, Louise and her husband Hereward decided to build a smaller
house on the lot next to the main family home that they could move
into, because, she said, as they got older, they were having trouble
The Allix family decided their aging parents had to move out of the
old house, when the stairs got too difficult. (CBC)
Louise said a local archeologist heard of their plans and sent a
letter informing them of their obligations, so they hired an
archeological consultant to do the work.
"The [house] construction was delayed by months," said Tim, who
stands to inherit some of the same property. "Every step of the way
there was another permit that had to be applied for."
"Instead of the digging taking two days — which we had thought it
was going to be — it was something like two weeks," said Louise.
"All these people, crawling about at 80 bucks an hour.
"My mom had to pay for their lunches," Tim added. "It's right on the
bill. Accommodation and meals."
Bill 7 times estimate
The original estimate was $4,000. However, Louise said, after the
team found part of a human skull, they decided to sift through the
dirt for several more days. They also recovered a dog skeleton,
several arrowheads and a hand-carved pin.
Her husband was in his 80s and in poor health while this was going
on, Louise said. He died last summer, and his son and wife believe
the stress hastened his death.
"He broke down and cried one day. He just broke down and he cried.
He didn't know how to deal with it," said Tim. "It makes me want to
cry — to think of him getting that upset."
Louise said the $35,000 final bill came as a huge shock — and
because she lives on a fixed income, she doesn't have the extra
money to pay it.
Nanoose First Nation historian Wayne Edwards said all property
owners whose land could be affected should be informed by the
"If the bill were split up among taxpayers — between everybody in
the province — it would be peanuts. But for me it's a heck of a
lot," said Louise.
"I don't really care who pays it, but it shouldn't be us," said Tim.
The B.C. Real Estate Association has been pushing the government for
years to compensate landowners for whatever losses they incur in
"If society is benefiting from whatever the government is doing,
society should pay for it, not the landowner," said CEO Robert
Laing. "The cost can be horrendous. And it isn't fair."
Buyer beware, says First Nation
When the B.C. Liberals were in opposition, some of its MLAs also
called for full disclosure and compensation.
"Buyer beware," said Wayne Edwards, historian and former chief of
the Nanoose First Nation. "That land you are buying may be of
historical importance to First Nations."
Edwards said he agrees with the Allix family that every B.C.
landowner and buyer whose property might be affected should be told.
"Homeowners should be afforded the courtesy of having that kind of
information," said Edwards.
With no system in place, he said, some property owners bulldoze
through precious artifacts, because they don't know or care that
they are there.
Kevin Krueger, B.C.'s minister responsible for the Heritage Branch,
said the government is working on solutions 'in a big picture way.'
(CBC) "We've found artifacts in pawn shops and in private
collections. From areas that are known archeology sites," he said.
Over the years, there have been several disputes, all across the
province. Last year, police were called on a property owner in Oak
Bay, near Victoria, who was trying to build $1 million home without
the proper site alteration permit.
"Heritage can be preserved or destroyed," Edwards said. "And the
biggest problem that we've had is that it's been destroyed."
He believes the cost of preserving heritage should be shared.
Otherwise, he said, there is a great incentive for individual
property owners to ignore the rules — to avoid getting stuck with
"A lot of people are saying why should I say anything? And that's
unfortunate," he said.
'Heritage can be preserved … it's being destroyed.'
—Nanoose First Nation historian Wayne EdwardsEdwards pointed to a
plain brown box sitting on property bought by the province in the
1990s at Craig Bay, also near Parksville. The box holds ancient
bones, dug up when the area was developed, before the province
bought the site to end the dispute between First Nations and the
developer planning to build there.
Edwards said that, as the landowner, the province should have
re-interred those bones long ago.
"I'll be happy when they are back in the ground," he said. "It
saddens me. But the province is broke. They tell us that they are
broke and they don't have money for this kind of thing."
Better forgiveness than permission
Even if the government makes changes, Krueger indicated landowners
would still bear most of the financial responsibility.
"The ownership of the land on the surface doesn't mean unrestricted
control of what happens subsurface when the ground is disturbed,"
said Krueger. The minister also said the registered sites are just a
small fraction of the real number across the province.
Bones from an extinct dog were considered to be one of the more
important finds on the property. (CBC)
Tim is currently unemployed — and expects to face the same hurdles
his mother did, if he tries to build on the other empty lot when he
"I think it's better to ask forgiveness than permission," he said.
"Then say — oops, I didn't know."
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First Nations angling for exemption from new tax
Kelowna Capital News - By Alistair Waters - June
B.C. First Nations leaders are calling for a
province-wide HST exemption for their members.
Penticton Indian Band’s Stewart Phillip, head of the Union of B.C.
Indian Chiefs, told the Capital News Tuesday, that’s the demand he
will make when he and other First Nation leaders meet with Finance
Minister Colin Hansen on Thursday.
Saying he was “not impressed” that Hansen waited until the “11th
hour,” to meet despite repeated attempts by Native leaders over the
past few months, Phillip said he will go to the meeting and will
press for B.C. to follow Ontario’s lead and exempt B.C. aboriginals
from paying the HST on and off reserve
Unlike B.C., which does not have a history of treaties between First
Nations and the federal government, Ontario has exempted its Native
people from sales tax both on and off reserve for many years, said
In B.C., there has been a sales tax exemption for First Nation
members but only for goods purchased on reserve.
But, he said a majority of First Nations people live off reserve in
B.C., in part because of a lack of housing and jobs in their home
communities. Many aboriginals also tend to have a lower income and
because of that, the HST will affect them particularly harshly.
“It will be another burden in an already dire situation,” he said.
Support for a mirror of the situation in Ontario is widespread among
B.C. First Nations across the province, according to the Union of
B.C. Indian Chiefs, including First Nations here in the Okanagan.
Chief Robert Louie of the Westbank First Nation said he supports the
move to bring in a sweeping HST exemption for First Nation people in
B.C. both on and off reserve.
“If the province of Ontario can do it, why can’t the province of
British Columbia?” he said.
Louie believes the “vast majority” of First Nation people are
opposed to the HST here but added it’s still unclear what will
happen in regard to the current initiative petition campaign to have
the tax scrapped and as a result, would not speculate on what will
happen if a province-wide exemption is not granted to First Nations
On the WFN reserves, the WFN government currently collects a five
per cent tax—equivalent to the GST—from its members on just three
items, alcohol, tobacco and automotive fuel.
Other purchases by First Nation members of products bought on
reserve are not taxable. First Nation members pay sales tax and GST
on goods bought off reserve just like non-native people.
Louie said information from the Canada Revenue Agency has shown the
amount of administration will increase with the introduction of the
HST but other than that, little will change on WFN reserves.
The issue, he added, is really an exemption for First Nation people
shopping off reserve across the province.
Phillip said after a recent meeting with leaders of the Fight HST
group—lead by former Social Credit premier Bill Vander Zalm and
trying to have the current law allowing the HST rescinded—members of
the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs vowed to do all they could to stop
the new harmonized sales tax.
The tax will replace the current five per cent GST and the seven per
cent provincial sales tax as of July 1 with a combined 12 per cent
The new tax will be applicable on a host of items and services
currently exempt from the PST.
Despite many economists supporting the introduction of the HST in
B.C., saying it will be good for the economy, a recent StatsCan
report said the introduction would immediately increase costs for an
average B.C. household by about $500 per year.
The Fight HST group has gathered the signatures of 15 per cent of
all registered voters is all 85 B.C. ridings on petitions to try to
force the government to either hold a non-binding provincial
referendum on the HST or introduce legislation abolishing it. If the
latter route is followed, the Liberals have a majority in the
legislature to vote such a bill down and keep the HST in place.
As part of the deal it made with Ottawa to create the HST, the
province will get $1.6 billion.
But unlike Ontario, which got $4 billion in its HST deal with the
federal government, B.C. is refusing to pass the money it received
onto residents in the form of HST rebate cheques.
awaters "at" kelownacapnews.com
City declines to sign memorandum with the WFN
Kelowna Capital News -By Jennifer Smith - June 01,
Kelowna city council opted not to sign a
memorandum of understanding designed to align the city and Westbank
First Nations on community planning and economic development Monday.
With an offer on the table to review the document in a workshop
before signing, mayor and council decided it might be best to ensure
they definitely understand what it all means.
Though the MOU is more a statement of intent than a legally binding
agreement, the mayor said she felt the move was still prudent.
B.C. native leaders call for wildfire aid
Kelowna.com - Monday, May 31st, 2010
The B.C. First Nations Forestry Council says communities are still
looking for the fire prevention help they were promised.
The council says of 103 communities in B.C.'s wildfire region, only
39 have special strategies in place and none have been able to
complete the job of removing dead timber to create a firebreak.
Council president Chief Bill Williams said the council drafted a
plan to mitigate the risk of wildfires more than two years ago.
Members estimated it would cost $135 million to clear dead timber
and create a buffer around their communities.
“We submitted a budget, but we never received any funding,” Williams
Many aboriginal communities sit in the middle of timber killed by
the pine beetle.
Federal aid runs out
The federal government provided some money in its program to deal
with the beetle infestation, but that has now ended.
In the B.C. legislature last week, New Democrat MLA Bob Simpson
blamed the provincial government.
“This government has actually abandoned the most vulnerable
communities in the fire interface and that's First Nations
But Forests Minister Pat Bell rejected that allegation.
“Well, that's just nonsense and, in fact, we've worked very closely
with First Nations communities across the province to make sure that
they have wildfire protection plans in place,” Bell said.
Williams said community leaders are worried about what may happen if
fire breaks out.
“Oh, it just horrifies. We know how that the aboriginal communities
live within the forest,” he said.
“There is no firebreak whatsoever and if there is a fire started it
is going to, unfortunately, create havoc — not only to people's
homes, but maybe to community centres.”
Millions in WFN transfers are set for renegotiation
Kelowna Capital News - By Jason Luciw - May 07,
Taxpayers could be permanently on the hook for
transfer payments to the Westbank First Nation, relating to the
implementation of the band’s self-government agreement with Ottawa,
which began April 1, 2005.
At that time, the federal government agreed to a five-year deal,
giving the band more than $4 million per year until 2010 to cover a
variety of costs.
The money has been given in addition to more than $2 million in
other transfer payments the WFN receives for health care, housing
and other social programs.
But WFN director of operations Pat Fosbery said that his First
Nation has started renegotiating with the federal government,
believing self-government transfer payments should be made in
“The Westbank First Nation envisioned that this would be an ongoing
payment from the federal government, just as the province receives
transfer payments from the federal government,” Fosbery explained.
The WFN considers itself on equal footing with the province in many
respects when it comes to its relationship with Canada, although its
jurisdictional powers vary from those of the B.C. government, said
Chief Robert Louie.
The final transfer payment for the implementation of self-government
was to be paid this year and was to be $4.5 million, according to
Ministry of Indian and Northern Affairs budget documents.
The payments are used to support education, including operation of
the Sensisyusten House of Learning, culture, social and economic
development, legislative and administrative services and processing
membership status cards.
“A portion of it also goes to capital projects,” explained Fosbery.
The ministry also said funding could be used for land, resource and
Meanwhile, the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation is calling on the
ministry to make public the salaries of chiefs and band councillors
The federation released information Thursday, stating the salaries
of some chiefs exceed remuneration for provincial premiers and in
some cases the prime minister.
“The Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation was recently sent a brown
envelope containing information that showed the chief of the Enoch
Cree Nation, a community of 1,529 just outside of Edmonton, was paid
more than Alberta’s premier––getting paid $180,000 tax free,” the
“Meanwhile, the average Enoch band member’s earnings are closer to
$20,000 per year.”
Unlike those bands, however, many First Nations do make their chief
and councillor salaries public, the organization added.
The Westbank First Nation does post remuneration figures, showing
Louie was paid $100,000 tax-free last year while Couns. Brian Eli,
Larry Derrickson, Loretta Swite and Mike DeGuevara were each paid
jluciw "at" kelownacapnews.com
WFN responds to gravel pit issues
Kelowna Capital News - By Jason Luciw - April 08,
Westside Road concerns will be addressed as part
of the Westbank First Nation’s application to operate a gravel pit
near Fintry, according to Chief Robert Louie.
Louie made the comments Wednesday, four days after residents
expressed concerns in the Capital News regarding the impact gravel
truck traffic would have on Westside Road if the pit were permitted.
(Proposed Gravel Pit Has Nearby Residents Worried, April 4, Page
The residents said they were opposed to the idea of a sand and
gravel quarry primarily because Westside Road would be unsuitable
for the resulting 40 gravel truck trips per day.
Louie explained that his band would consider funding Westside Road
upgrades if the pit permit were awarded.
“The province has come back to us and said it would like to see some
road upgrades,” Louie commented.
“This is something we’re still working through right now is
agreements to contribute potential moneys to improve the Westside
(Road) so that all travelers can take the benefit of that.”
Louie indicated that Westside Road is in need of an estimated $15
million in upgrades.
However, the WFN chief would not say how
much money his band would commit to improvements.
“It’s not cheap and this is not to a four-lane standard by any
means. This is just dealing with the lack of shoulders, the tight
corners, that type of thing. We’ll have to work (the) figures out.”
The chief also acknowledged the idea of using a barge to ship
materials on Okanagan Lake.
“That’s a possibility of finding a barge that would be suitable for
that particular venture and then having it land on one of our
reserves, probably Indian Reserve No. 10…(on) lands adjacent to the
Alternatively, the North Westside Community Association suggested
building a back road southwest or northwest out of the pit, adding
that under no condition would its 300 members support the addition
of 40 gravel truck trips per day on Westside Road.
The B.C. government has posted legal notices in newspapers for the
last few weeks informing residents that the WFN and Canadian
Aggregates Inc. has applied for the gravel permit on a lot about one
kilometre south of the La Casa subdivision.
The application indicated that 249,000 metric tonnes of gravel would
be produced at the mine each year.
Residents and Crown land licence holders in the area have been
invited to address concerns or comments to Chief Inspector of
Mines/Section Head Crown Lands, c/o Front Counter BC, 441 Columbia
St., Kamloops, BC V2C 2T3 with reference to file number 1620848
The deadline for submissions is April 30.
For more information
about this gravel operation see what we have gathered on the
Aggregate Task Force webpage on this website.
Property tax break given to WFN residents
Kelowna Capital News - By Jason Luciw - April 06,
The Westbank First Nation has held the line on
property taxes this year.
The band’s chief and council approved a tax increase of 0.2 per cent
in its 2010-2011 budget, or $2.40 more for the average homeowner
this year, when compared to 2009-2010’s tax notice.
The chairman of the Westbank First Nation Advisory Council, which
represents non-natives living on band land, said the band’s budget
shows “good financial management.”
Terry Turcan commented that he was pleased the WFN went easy on
taxpayers’ pocketbooks this year.
“It’s a very small increase––a little blip.”
Growth on WFN lands helped offset taxes for residents living on
reserves, Turcan noted.
“There’s no question about it, the commercial growth especially has
Meanwhile, Chief Robert Louie said in a press release that the WFN’s
budget is the result of “extensive planning and consultation by all
stakeholders over the past six months.”
“It reflects the cooperation and goodwill that are key to the WFN’s
financial progress,” Louie said.
The chief didn’t return calls for further comment.
The band said that, on average, a homeowner living on Westbank First
Nation land would pay $1,222 in property taxes this year, after
applying for the Home Owners’ Grant.
The WFN expects to collect $9.9 million in property taxes, with $2.6
million spent on administration, financial services, human resources
and information technology; $2 million set aside for reserves and
contingencies; $1.4 million returned to residents in the form of
homeowners grants; $1.2 million spent on transit, the library,
regional parks and community centres; $1.2 million for economic
development, planning and engineering and $400,000 for recreation
and youth programs.
The band expects to collect a further $20.6 million from other
sources of income, including fees for services, fines, development
cost charges, community forest operations and revenue from a handful
In turn, the WFN plans to spend an additional $17.1 million on other
operations over the next year, with the remaining $3.5 million to be
placed in reserves for capital and other future expenditures, said
The First Nations Tax Commission and the Minister of Indian Affairs
are required to sign off on the WFN’s budget later this spring,
clearing the way for tax notices to go out to
3,368 homeowners at the end of May.
WFN property taxes are due on July 2.
For more information, call the band’s finance department at
The WFN taxes are not to be confused with those charged to residents
living in the neighbouring District of West Kelowna municipality.
Their bills go out separately the last week of May and property
taxes are due to the District of West Kelowna on July 7.
West Kelowna residents face a net tax increase of 2.35 per cent, or
an additional $32 based on a house assessed at $492,000.
Base property taxes on such a home were $1,354 last year.
The 2.35 per cent increase excludes a $126 shift in property taxes
from the Central Okanagan Regional District, which is being caused
by West Kelowna’s decision to manage its own transit contract.
For more information call West Kelowna’s property tax information
line at 778-797-8860.
jluciw "at" kelownacapnews.com
|In his opening remarks, Chief Louie painted a picture of
Westbank First Nation (WFN), which is one of very few that has
successfully negotiated a self-government agreement with Canada.
This gives them authority to make laws on their five reserves, all
in the Okanagan. The population on their reserves numbers between
8,000 and 9,000 – about 650 are band members and about 8,000 are
non-native. This high number of non-natives is “peculiar,” Louie
said. The band has a community forest licence with an annual
allowable cut of 80,000 cubic metres that employs many people, and
not just their own. He said construction was underway on WFN lands
for a Home Depot and Canada’s largest Wal-Mart. “We would like to be
business associates of yours. By doing business together, it creates
opportunities for you and for us,” he said.
March 22, 2010 Regional District of Central Okanagan Governance and
Services Committee Minutes
3.2 District of West Kelowna -
SILGA Resolution Submission (for information)
THAT the District of West Kelowna proposed resolution to the 2010
SILGA convention regarding a request that UBCM lobbies the Ministry
of Health Services to establish an equitable
provincial system to collect funding from Regional Hospital Capital
projects from non-aboriginal residents residing on First Nation
lands be received.
Joint council meetings won’t be open to public
Kelowna Capital News - By Jason Luciw - May 04,
Westbank First Nation Chief Robert Louie (left) and West Kelowna
Mayor Doug Findlater signed an agreement Monday afternoon, which
will ensure their governments work cooperatively to resolve issues
of mutual concern.
Jason Luciw/Capital News
Two Westside councils have signed an agreement ensuring they sit
down and formally discuss matters of mutual concern, however,
all sessions will be held out of the public
eye, devoid of taxpayers’ scrutiny.
West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater and Westbank First Nation Chief
Robert Louie signed an agreement Monday, stating that their councils
would work together on issues such as economic development, tourism
and service provision.
However, neither man would commit to holding
any of the joint meetings in the open despite the fact some
gatherings could deal with services impacting taxpayers.
Findlater said some of the subject matter
could be sensitive and therefore most meetings should be held behind
“We’d be prepared to put them open provided they met the test,” said
Findlater, noting that some meetings would involve land and legal
matters, which are typically discussed in camera.
Findlater was asked at what point meeting details would be made
“I believe that we’d be getting a consensus and then it would have
to go back, in our case, for a formal public discussion depending on
what it is.”
Louie mentioned that his council would be obligated under its
constitution to go back to its membership specifically to get
support for matters involving money.
After the membership of about 600 people approved the matter, then
the band could reveal details to approximately 7,000 non-members
living on reserves.
As for the cooperation agreement signed
Monday, it is not legally binding on either party and both
the chief and the mayor were asked how they intended to resolve any
sticking points that arose during their discussions.
Findlater responded by saying he believed the spirit of the
agreement was to solve issues, not magnify them.
“There’s always going to be issues, but this is a promise to see the
other guy’s side of the story, and it’s about attitude and sitting
down with a view to solving problems.
“It is symbolic but it’s very important that we make this
While the band and the municipality may not always see eye to eye on
all matters, it’s important both sides are open to dialogue, added
“I don’t think there’s anything that is insurmountable,” said Louie.
However, one of the sticking points between
the two governments could be a service agreement with the Westbank
First Nation, which the District of West Kelowna inherited two years
ago from the Central Okanagan Regional District.
“When they expire we’ll have a really good discussion and maybe a
tough discussion,” Findlater said.
For now most of the terms are in place for five to 10 years, said
“If anybody wants to reopen them and there’s mutual agreement to
open them…then we’d be glad to do that. But for now, they’re in
place and they’re working.”
Findlater used the West Kelowna fire department as an example of a
service both governments have managed to partner well on to provide
“It would be absolutely silly to have two fire departments.”
The band also pays fees for its residents to use West Kelowna’s
parks and recreational facilities.
Findlater said the two governments would also be working together on
road and sidewalk connections and to resolve houseboat moorage
issues in Gellatly Bay.
Louie added the joint council meetings could be used to discuss
strategies for lobbying senior governments for grants to help pay
for expensive infrastructure upgrades.
jluciw "at" kelownacapnews.com
Minister sheds light on Westbank First Nation talks
Kelowna Capital News - By Jason Luciw - May 04,
A new chapter is being written in the B.C.
government’s relationship with the Westbank First Nation, according
to Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Minister George Abbott.
The Westbank band announced in November it was suspending its
involvement in B.C.’s treaty process and looking to the courts to
settle land claims in an area spanning 10,500 square kilometres in
the Central Okanagan and Lower Arrow Lake regions.
However, Abbott said new talks started with the Westbank band last
month and the B.C. government is optimistic court action can be
“It’s important for all of us to work toward a better tone and a
better outcome. No one benefits from protracted litigation,” said
“We would go through three levels of courts, and then when we
ultimately arrived before the Supreme Court of Canada, (the
justices) would like advise us that we’d need to sit down and work
out our issues, as happened with the Haida.”
The Haida have since signed a reconciliation protocol with the B.C.
government and Abbott introduced an act in the Legislature last week
in support of that agreement.
The deal renamed Queen Charlotte Islands as Haida Gwaii and set out
terms for logging, managing protected areas and preserving heritage
The minister said the B.C. government is now open to negotiating a
similar reconciliation protocol agreement with the Westbank Nation
as an interim measure.
“Whether a treaty comes in 10 years or 50 years with the Westbank
First Nation, we need to find more and better ways to work together
Westbank Chief Robert Louie announced last week that he was hopeful
a reconciliation agreement could be reached in late July or early
While Abbott said he was optimistic the band and the provincial
government could reach mutually acceptable terms, he was cautious
about putting a deadline on a deal.
“We’ve agreed to sit down and try and work through range of issues.
I made a commitment that we should get together in late July or
early August, but, I’ll be surprised if we resolve all issues and
proceed to a reconciliation protocol at that point,” the minister
“Everything is always contingent on the ability of all parties to
Ministry staff will work with the band to
determine the issues to be addressed in the reconciliation protocol,
which Abbott called a “decision making matrix,” to address large,
complex land use matters.
However, Abbott said he wouldn’t want to get
into details about specific issues the Westbank agreement might
“I wouldn’t want to speak definitively about any of those things
until we got into the discussions. We want to hear the things that
are of most concern to Westbank first Nation.”
Westbank First Nation title and rights manager Raf DeGuevara said
his band hopes the reconciliation protocol
would address issues such as shared decisions on land use, resource
revenue and land selection.
“Right now, everyday lands are being given away without having
settled the land question,” said DeGuevara.
Louie also noted last week that the band’s lawyers would continue
working toward court action behind the scenes as a fallback
position, should a reconciliation agreement fail to materialize.
jluciw "at" kelownacapnews.com
During an address to residents of the Westbank First Nation (WFN)
reserve, Chief Robert Louie outlined the band’s development plans.
Louie noted that two projects, the Real Canadian Superstore and a
joint venture with Property
Development Group (PDG), are currently on hold. The PDG West Kelowna
Landing project is looking to secure one more anchor tenant before
proceeding, said Louie.
However, the band is considering a number of other projects such as
a joint venture shopping centre called the Gathering Place and the
development of a six-hectare island and marina
in the Okanagan Lake. WFN and Canadian Aggregates Inc. also
recently applied to the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands for an
investigative permit for their proposed joint venture gravel pit
project. Louie said the band council is currently working on its
budget deliberations, which could increase taxes for non-First
Nations residents by 1.5 per cent. The council is keeping the state
of economy in mind while working on the numbers and trying to keep
the tax increase close to the levels recently approved by Kelowna
and West Kelowna, which is 3.55 per
cent and 2.0 per cent respectively. WFN
chief and council are also close to passing a controversial
banishment law aimed at serious criminal offenders that seeks to
banish “undesirables” from band lands who present a tangible threat
to the community.
(Kelowna Capital News, April 26)
Tough land claims talk turns conciliatory
Kelowna Capital News - By Jason Luciw - April 30,
Land settlement talks have resumed between the
Westbank First Nation and the provincial government, five months
after the native band announced it was suspending its involvement in
B.C.’s treaty process.
Chief Robert Louie said that relations between his band and the
government took a positive turn after B.C. Aboriginal Relations and
Reconciliation Minister George Abbott agreed to a reconciliation
process with the Westbank Nation, similar to one the province
confirmed this week with the Haida.
“We have a handshake agreement right now,” said Louie.
“Our expectation is that this would be formalized and in place no
later than the first week in August.”
The Westbank chief said that if a framework for the reconciliation
process could be established this summer, his band would be willing
to suspend legal action.
In November, the band suspended involvement in B.C.’s treaty
process, saying it was fruitless, and prepared to settle rights and
title claims through the courts instead.
“All the money and resources were not achieving anything so we
formally announced our treaty suspension and we made it clear to the
province that we had no other alternative but to commence a lawsuit
to protect our traditional lands,” Louie stated.
However, the chief mentioned preparations for litigation would
continue behind the scenes should his band need to resume court
action in the future.
“We’ve got teams of lawyers working on it and getting ready for it
just in case. But (reconciliation) is an alternative for us to work
out a process to deal with issues one by one.
“It’s something very important to our community if our nation is to
finally move along substantive land clams that are many, many years
The band formally entered the treaty process in 1992.
Unlike the treaty process, which involves the Canadian and B.C.
governments and a first nation, the reconciliation process would
consist of bilateral negotiations aimed at resolving sticking points
between the province and Westbank, noted the chief.
Louie’s reconciliation announcement was made Thursday night on the
heels of Abbott’s introduction of the landmark Haida Gwaii
Reconciliation Act in the B.C. Legislature earlier in the day.
“The Haida Gwaii Reconciliation Act represents a new beginning for
the Haida Nation, the people of Haida Gwaii and the province,” said
Abbott in a press release.
“The legislation acknowledges the uniqueness of Haida Gwaii and the
Haida Nation and confirms government’s continued commitment to build
a new relationship with aboriginal people.”
The legislation backs up a recognition protocol agreement the
government signed with the Haida Dec. 11.
The agreement immediately changed the name of
Queen Charlotte Islands to Haida Gwaii.
Plus it set out terms for future land use agreements, established
objectives for logging practices in Haida traditional territory,
determined an allowable annual tree cut, approved plans to manage
and protect environmentally sensitive areas and developed standards
to identify and conserve heritage sites.
Abbott was unavailable for comment Friday regarding Westbank
Westbank First Nation title and rights manager Raf DeGuevara said
his band hopes that its reconciliation protocol would achieve
something similar, serving as an interim step toward shared decision
making on land use, resource revenue sharing and land selection.
“Right now, everyday our lands are being given away without having
settled the land question,” said DeGuevara.
The Westbank First Nation lays
claim to 10,500 square kilometres of traditional territory in the
Central Okanagan and Lower Arrow Lake regions of the province.
jluciw "at" kelownacapnews.com
Six screen theatre to anchor new mall
Castanet.net - by Wayne Moore - Story: 54236 - Apr
A state-of-the-art six screen movie cinema will anchor a new
shopping centre on the westside.
The new West Kelowna Landing will be built near the Westside Road
interchange next to the Westbank First Nation offices.
The cinema will be owned and operated by Landmark Cinemas of Canada.
Landmark Cinemas also owns and operated the five screen Capital
Theatre in Westbank along with the Paramount and Grand Ten Cinemas
Officials with Landmark expect the new cinema to open in 2011 and
also expect the Capital Theatre to remain open after the new complex
"Landmark Cinemas is pleased that the new shopping centre provides
us the opportunity to bring this new, state-of-the-art facility to
our many guests living in West Kelowna and area," says Landmark COO,
"The Landmark Cinema, West Kelowna will become the entertainment
destination for the entire community and also those moviegoers
living in Kelowna who choose to frequent the new centre because they
will have easy access via the William Bennett Bridge."
WFN Chief, Robert Louie says the addition of Landmark Cinemas
furthers their objective of creating exciting opportunities for
growth and development of WFN strategic land assets.
Landmark Cinemas is the first tenant announced for the 42 acre
shopping centre proposed to be constructed just south of the band
Before construction can begin, Louie says band members must approve
using the community land for the shopping centre.
Band members will vote July 8.
If the vote goes through, Louie says construction would begin in
September of this year and is expected to be complete by September
He expects construction to begin in September of this year.
WFN ‘s building boom picking up again: chief
Kelowna Capital News - By Jason Luciw - April 30,
Chief Robert Louie talks with new WFN chief
administrative officer Pat Fosbery outside the band’s pavillion at
Pine Stadium, following Louie’s annual address to non-band members
who live on WFN land.
Jason Luciw/Capital News
Development dominated Chief Robert Louie’s annual address to a
gathering of non-band members who live on Westbank First Nation
It turns out even the development-savvy WFN could not escape the
effects of 2009’s global economic downturn, according to stats Louie
“In 2008 we had 248 building permits issued. In 2009, we had about
154 building permits,” Louie told more than 300 people gathered at
the Sensisyusten Community Centre for the WFN Advisory Council’s
annual general meeting.
The advisory council represents more than 7,000 non-members living
on WFN land, providing input to the band’s chief and council on
issues like taxation, services, bylaws and development proposals.
Looking forward, Louie said development seems to be on the rebound
on WFN land this year.
Construction has started on the new Real Canadian Superstore at Butt
Road and Louie Drive, adding almost 10,000 square metres of retail
As far as residential construction goes, 190 condominium units are
under construction at Copper Sky on Old Okanagan Highway.
Phase three of construction has been approved at the Sage Creek
manufactured home development on Elk Road, with another 63 units
“That will necessitate more (servicing) improvements like sidewalks
and streetlights. We know those are issues for the safety of you and
all who use those roads,” Louie said.
Another 34 single-family units have been approved in phase eight of
Sonoma Pines behind Canadian Tire. Elk Ridge, with another 85
residential units, was recently approved too, said Louie.
Other commercial developments approved this year include 3,530
square metres of retail space at the corner of Louie Drive and Butt
Road, with a new drug store planned for that site and construction
scheduled start later this month.
A 1,765-square-metre business park is being constructed on East
Louie also spoke about the WFN’s planned shopping centre project
with Property Development Group of Vancouver, which will add
14,000-square-metres of retail space on property between Boucherie
and Westside Roads, along Highway 97.
Calgary-based Landmark Cinemas announced Thursday it will be one of
the tenants, building an 1,850-square-metre state-of-the-art cinema
and adding another six screens to the 23 theatres already offered
in the Kelowna area.
A drug store, two banks and two restaurants are also planned for the
strip mall, which is subject to approval in a July 8 referendum.
WFN members must endorse a 99-year lease allowing PDG to build and
operate the mall.
If approved, construction is slated to start in September.
“And of course there are several other major commercial and
residential developments scheduled to begin in 2011 and 2012, so the
Westside is really in for dramatic change,”
Louie continued. “It’s going to be a full
fledged city, there’s no question about that and I keep saying one
of these days, not too many more years away, high-rises are
With all that development comes the need for infrastructure, said
Louie, who noted the band would work with developers to extend
sewers, build water pump stations and add sidewalks and streetlights
to reserve lands.
Luciw: Time for WFN council to come out from behind closed doors
Kelowna Capital News - By Jason Luciw - March 26,
The Westbank First Nation band council’s
closed-door policy and members-only attitude are baffling and
The WFN claims to be a progressive band, yet it shies away from
modern principals of equal access, openness and transparency in
government by denying media and the general public attendance at
This gives the impression the band is intolerant of outsiders and
has things to hide, whether that’s true or not.
These matters of openness and transparency are being raised
incidentally because this week the band council debated and
subsequently rejected a media request to attend meetings.
WFN director of operations James Montain vaguely explained council’s
“You may be aware that non-members of WFN can only attend a council
meeting at the pleasure of the council. After due consideration of
your request, council has declined,” wrote Montain in an e-mail to
the Capital News.
“I hope you understand (their) decision.”
In fact, the decision is difficult to understand for several
For starters, based on Montain’s explanation,
approximately 8,000 non-members who pay taxes
to the band are also wrongly excluded from attending the same
If people are paying taxes to a government, those taxpayers should
be permitted to at least attend the meetings where decisions
impacting their wallets are being made.
And since it’s impossible for all 8,000 non-member reserve residents
to attend the meetings, the media should be permitted and report on
behalf of taxpayers.
Similarly, even the WFN’s 700 members could not feasibly attend
council meetings all at once, even though the meetings are open to
Therefore, it can be argued that media should be permitted to attend
and report on band business on their behalf as well.
Next, it should be noted that the WFN is
managing the $41 million Westside Road interchange project, which
B.C. taxpayers are funding.
When the WFN council makes decisions
concerning the management of that project, the media should be there
to report back to the general public on how the council is handling
Another reason for open council meetings is the band’s symbiotic
relationship with the District of West Kelowna, Peachland and the
rural area surrounding those municipalities.
West Kelowna’s parks, recreation and fire departments and the
Central Okanagan Regional District’s landfill and sewer plant serve
the Westbank First Nation.
Decisions the WFN council makes on supporting or refusing these
services impacts its partners and the media should be there to
report on those matters too.
Neighbours living in West Kelowna also deserve to know the band’s
plans for development on its reserves next door, so they can weigh
in on how these developments would impact them.
Media plays a role in informing residents of these plans and
educating them on how to provide input to the band, so council can
in turn consider how these developments impact their neighbours.
But if for no other reason, the Westbank First Nation should allow
media into its meetings as a point of living up to its word.
When the WFN negotiated the
right to self-government five years ago, it was understood that
council would allow media and the general public to attend their
meetings, much like any other government would.
Instead, by closing itself off, the chief and councillors are
sending the message that the WFN plays by a different set of rules
than other governments and is content to exclude outsiders on a
Closed doors and exclusive behaviour reflect poorly on a first
nation that is otherwise so very progressive.
It’s also a poor image for the WFN to be projecting when it’s
attempting to give businesses and residents good reasons to build,
set up shop and buy homes on its land.
If West Kelowna, Peachland
or the regional district have no trouble being transparent, then
clearly Westbank First Nation’s council shouldn’t have any problem
doing so as well.
Jason Luciw is the Capital News’ Westside reporter. He can be heard
on AM 1150s Open Line with Phil Johnson and West Kelowna Mayor Doug
Findlater from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. every second Wednesday of the
jluciw "at" kelownacapnews.com
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