Land Purchase Supports Reconciliation with Esquimalt and Songhees Nations

photo of Thetis Cove, View Royal
Thetis Cove, View Royal.

The BC Government has announced the purchase of a 3.4-hectare parcel of undeveloped private property in the Esquimalt and Songhees Nations’ territories to support reconciliation. Thetis Cove was owned privately until the Fall of 2020, when it was purchased for $13 million.

“The Thetis Cove property presented a unique opportunity for us to advance reconciliation with Esquimalt Nation and support treaty discussions with Songhees Nation,” said Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation in a government media release. “While we are at the beginning of our discussions with Esquimalt Nation and the broader community about the land, we see its significant potential for supporting Esquimalt Nation to thrive and prosper, which benefits everyone who lives in the region.”

The Province says the land was bought to help facilitate discussions as they negotiate a reconciliation agreement with Esquimalt Nation and the federal government. The Province will hold the property until an agreement with Esquimalt Nation is completed and the land transfer process can take place. This is expected to take three to five years.

“The return of our land will be a significant step in reconciliation and provides an opportunity to work constructively with other levels of government to create a healthy and prosperous future for our community,” said Esquimalt Nation Chief Robert Thomas.

The Province says it will continue to work with local First Nations and provide ongoing opportunities for consultation with municipal officials, residents and stakeholders as the negotiations progress. It believes the property will support Esquimalt Nation’s goal to build new housing, as it faces a considerable shortage, and create additional commercial development if desired.

The Thetis Cove property is located in the Town of View Royal, off Hallowell Road, next to the E&N rail corridor and adjacent to Esquimalt Nation’s only reserve. “We are looking forward to working with Esquimalt Nation and the Province in a collaborative way that considers all of our interests as the future plans for Thetis Cove are developed,” said Mayor David Screech, Town of View Royal. “As neighbours, Esquimalt Nation and View Royal have much to gain from working together.”

“The acquisition of this land provides an opportunity to build more housing for members of Esquimalt Nation and presents greater opportunities for economic development,” said Mitzi Dean, MLA for Esquimalt-Metchosin. “As negotiations proceed, we will support a collaborative approach with all local officials and residents to build a strong, flourishing and vibrant community.”