Tseshaht First Nation buys land for new off-reserve housing in Port Alberni

Tseshaht First Nation buys land for new off-reserve housing in Port Alberni

“This is just the beginning, we’re just getting started.” Those are the hopeful words of Tseshaht Chief Ken Watts, after the purchase of a large property in Port Alberni.

The Tseshaht First Nation purchased a 3.25 hectare piece of land that it will develop into much needed housing.

“Our goal here is to build housing, not just for our people but for everybody else ,and you know it would be great to see a 50-unit type building here in the future, multi-family,” Watts added.

The property was mostly a former parking lot at Western Forest Products’ Alberni Pacific Division.

It sits between 2nd and 3rd avenues at Ship Creek Road.

Watts wouldn’t say exactly how much the Nation paid for the property, but he did say he was very happy with the favorable deal the Nation got from Western Forest Products.

“We are pleased to have identified an opportunity that fulfills an important objective for the Tseshaht First Nation, to address housing supply, and supports the community’s growth and development,” said Steven Hofer, president and CEO of Western Forest Products.

“We look forward to seeing this property transition into a thriving, vibrant residential development in support of reconciliation, while providing lasting positive impacts in Port Alberni more broadly,” Hofer said.

Watts says housing is a focus for the Tseshaht First Nation.

“We engaged our people and said, ‘What are your top priorities?’ and housing kept comping up where people said we want to move back home not just on reserve but we’d love to just move back to the territory here in Port Alberni,” Watts said.

The province gave Tseshaht $5 million last year for the purpose of buying land and this is the first purchase.

“And now it’s one of our goals to be one of the biggest land owners in our territory, that’s the way it should be, we’ve never surrendered any of it,” said Watts. “If the province and other governments are willing to help contribute and partners such as Western and others so that we can get that land returned back to us then that’s what we’ll have to do.”

He says they now have one property they can leverage to buy others, and while the focus will be on housing, there could be other business opportunities as well.

“We’ve told ourselves, why can’t we be the developers? Why can’t we be the ones to build housing in our own territory, both affordable, attainable through non-profit societies, but also in the future, market rentals?” he said. “You know, there are others who make millions throughout our territory doing housing and you know that’s someday down the road for us, but right now we just want to see some affordable housing built here on this property.”

He says there’s no firm timeline but would like to see some activity on the property within the next year.

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!