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New federal legislation will make it easier to develop large-scale real estate investment, including condominium projects, on First Nations-owned lands such as Goose Spit, says the Canadian Real Estate Association.
Bill C-24, the First Nations Certainty of Land Title Act, allows the development of commercial real estate economic on reserve land to create economic development opportunities. Until now, such projects have been hindered by lower values for on-reserve properties due to differences in the property rights regime on and off reserve land.
“In my view it opens up a significant portion of the market that may not have been interested before,” said Marty Douglas, a director with the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board. “The significance of the legislation is property owners and lenders and partners, in dealing with First Nations land, have had uncertainty of their legal tenure in the past, largely due to the fact that First Nations lands are, or had been, an entity unto their own. The things that we expect from regional or municipal or even provincial law do not necessarily apply. I guess the easiest example is building permits and zoning.”
Until now, according to Douglas, there was a resistance among lenders and buyers when it came to development and purchase of properties connected to First Nations land.
Access at Goose Spit, the tip of which is KFN reserve land, has been a serious roadblock during treaty negotiations between the K’ómoks First Nation, Victoria and Ottawa.
Douglas said he believes a resort rumored for development at the end of the spit could be traded in return for access or another bargain on a different piece of land in the Comox Valley.
“This federal legislation would be an important part of them marketing that, or any of their properties. If you can expand your buyers by including everybody, as opposed to just people with rights to live on reserves, then obviously you’ve got a much bigger market.”
Excerpted from the Comox Valley Record