Two First Nations will be offered the chance to buy the Jordan River townsite lands north of the West Coast Road from the Capital Regional District.
The two parcels, almost 15 hectares of former Western Forest Products land that has been declared surplus to the CRD’s park needs, will be offered to the Pacheedaht and T’Sou-ke First Nations.
The waterfront, including the Jordan River surfing beach and Sandcut Beach, will remain with the CRD as part of the new Jordan River Regional Park Reserve. “The proposed park boundary will protect land critical for the regional park,” said Mike Hicks, Juan de Fuca electoral area director.
The future of another two parcels of land north of West Coast Road will be decided by the CRD board next year. Jordan River townsite and previously logged uplands were part of 2,350 hectares of Western Forest Products land bought by the CRD for parkland and watershed protection in 2010 after years of controversy.
The land came on the market after the provincial government allowed the forest company to remove it from a tree farm licence in 2007. The CRD, which will acquire the final 57 hectares in Jordan River at the end of this month, had to buy all the legally defined parcels, even though some did not have park value.
During public consultation earlier this year, most people wanted the CRD to keep all the land, but the Pacheedaht and T’Sou-ke also expressed an interest. They will be given until the end of 2014 to decide on a purchase.
The CRD board voted unanimously in favour of the decision, Hicks said.
“Pacheedaht and T’Sou-ke have expressed a historic interest in these lands,” he said. “I hope they will turn it into something for economic development.”
Pacheedaht band manager Dorothy Hunt said the news is exciting. The band, which runs a forestry operation with headquarters in Jordan River, was originally negotiating with Western Forest Products for the land and will now go to the federal and provincial governments to ask for it to be included in treaty lands, she said.
“It was one of the original Pacheedaht village sites and we have always talked about having the opportunity to create a small village site with traditional foods and tourist sites and an education centre so people would understand this is Pacheedaht traditional territory,” said Hunt, adding meetings will be held with T’sou-ke.
If the parcels are sold, the money will go into the CRD’s park acquisition fund, Hicks said.
The fund was drained by the purchase of the Western Forest Products lands, which cost $18.8 million, paid over three years.
The province kicked in $2 million, private donors $360,500 and The Land Conservancy $250,000. TLC, which is facing financial difficulties, could not raise the $2.5 million it originally hoped to contribute.
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