Tlowitsis First Nation wants to buy land near York Rd, if they can have reserve status.
Over 100 residents of a York Road neighbourhood in South Campbell River filled a meeting of the Strathcona Regional District’s Electoral Areas Services Committee meeting today.
They wanted to express their concerns about plans of the Tlowitsis First Nation to purchase property from Timberwest and turn it into a reserve near their homes.
“Take it biased or not biased there is a stigmatism that goes with a reservation and by putting a reservation right in behind a property line of these owners who chose this area for obvious reasons, will devalue my property. I have put my life savings into that place” said Peter Sprout who lives in the area.
The Tlowitsis say they have enough money (approximately $3million) to purchase 255 hectares of land from Timberwest.
“Our members want a place to call home” said Tlowitsis band councillor Thomas Smith.
The band of 420 people is scattered across the island, BC and beyond and it is hoped about 100 people would settle on the land but their plan is being met with resistance.
Signs in the area have been spray painted with messages that say “No Rez.”
The road has also been spray painted.
“The comments have been very very racist and we’re one of the few First Nations who don’t have a home community. As you can see here, we’re actually just leasing this land off the Homalco First Nation here on the reserve” said Smith, referring to a lot on the Homalco reserve where they have office space.
However area residents listed many of their concerns.
“We don’t have the environmental water, sewage, septic to take care of any of this large influx of people in the area” said Terry Honig who lives in the neighbourhood.
Residents also say the process has lacked transparency but the Regional District reminded them the decision is strictly up to the Federal Government.
The Tlowitsis First Nation was asking for a letter of support from the Regional District but did not receive it.
“Obviously today there are some legitimate, grave concerns” said Area D Director Brenda Leigh.
“We do have a lot of concerns with the additions to the reserve. I absolutely respect the interests of the First Nation needing a place but I think there needs to be some very serious consultation as to where” added Board Vice-Chair Jim Abram.
A decision regarding RD support has been deferred to a future meeting.