Band opposes 99-year lease

Development along Westside Road shot down by 56 per cent of Okanagan Indian Band members

A proposed development along Westside Road has experienced a road block.

On Monday, 56 per cent of the 239 Okanagan Indian Band members who voted in a referendum opposed 99-year leases for a 70-unit project near Irish Creek Road. Forty-three per cent cast ballots in support.

“Some people don’t like development on the land base and alienating limited reserve land,” said  Chief Byron Louis.

The commercial development is proposed for land held by an individual band member.

But under federal regulations, a extension from the customary 49-year lease to 99 years must go before the membership of the First Nation for ratification.

Louis understands why developers want to provide customers with as long a lease as possible.

“When you move from 49 to 99-year leases, it creates security and increases value in the land,” he said.

However, he insists the wishes of the band membership must be considered.

“Before development happens, people must determine what the benefit is for the community,” he said.

“That will be the determining factor for future development.”

Despite the referendum results, Louis says the proposed 70-unit project could still proceed.

 

“It would have to be based on a 49-year lease,” he said.