Esquimalt, Songhees First Nations to reap millions for backing CRD sewage plan

Esquimalt and Songhees First Nations will receive millions of dollars for their support of the Capital Regional District’s sewage-treatment project.

The “support agreements” negotiated with each nation provide for everything from paid liaison positions and guarantees of employment for band members to costs of re-interment of any ancestral remains discovered during construction. They also include money to operate a food truck and provide culinary arts training, and cash to supply water and sewage services to reserve housing.

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The largest payment is for Rock Bay land controlled by the two First Nations. The CRD will spend $600,000 annually for four years to lease the land, which will be used as a preparation area for the sewage project.

Details of the financial contributions are spelled out in a memo written last week from sewage project board chairwoman Jane Bird to CRD chief administrative officer Robert Lapham.

Contributions to both nations include:

• $240,000 to Xhamasung Holdings, an entity jointly owned by both nations, to assist in upgrading and development of Westbay Marine Village Marina and RV park.

• A commitment that efforts will be made to train and employ at least four members of each nation during sewage project construction.

To Songhees:

• Four annual payments of $60,000 in support of a Songhees liaison to assist with project-related meetings and communications during construction.

• A single payment of $200,000 to be used by the Songhees Nation for a number of projects, including: to incorporate and expand operations of its food truck and culinary-arts training, and a café in its gift shop; tourism projects such as canoe and land tours and cruise-ship excursions; training for members to serve on the boards of economic-development enterprises; and an electronic sign at the corner of Maplebank and Admirals roads to advertise the Songhees Wellness Centre businesses as well as for-profit advertising.

• A single payment of $70,000 to be applied against legal, professional and administrative costs associated with implementing the agreement.

To Esquimalt Nation:

• Four annual payments of $60,000 to support the Esquimalt Nation liaison position

• A single payment of $400,000 to be used by the Esquimalt Nation for installing foundations and providing water, sewer and electrical connections to three trailers on the reserve, completing construction of a dock on the reserve and re-interment of ancestral remains that might be uncovered during construction.

• A single payment of $70,000 to be applied against legal, professional and administrative fees associated with implementing the agreement.

• The cost of a burning ceremony (up to $5,000) to be held every four years during the life of the treatment plant for the re-interment of remains disturbed as a result of the project.

The support agreements were negotiated “in recognition of the Crown’s obligation to consult with the Esquimalt and Songhees Nations and the contribution of the Nations, including to the planning of the wastewater system,” according to a report to the CRD board.

What some other municipalities are getting in relation to the sewage project:

James Bay deserves compensation for sewage-work disruptions: councillor

Sewage-treatment plans could mean better cycling in Victoria

Esquimalt gets glimpse of $20-million proposed sewage benefits 

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