There was a mutual feeling of relief and optimism after the city and the Campbell River Indian Band signed a new 10-year municipal services agreement on Tuesday.
“This wasn’t an easy agreement,” admitted Chief Bob Pollard of the Wei Wai Kum First Nation.
Earlier this year, both Chief Pollard and Chief Ralph Dick of the Cape Mudge Indian Band criticized the city for the poor working relationship between the municipality and the bands.
However, with Tuesday’s agreement, it appears things are improving between the city and the Campbell River band.
Everyone from city council – with the exceptions of councillors Andy Adams and Ryan Mennie who couldn’t make it – attended the signing held in the We Wai Kum council chamber.
“In lieu of good fences, we have a good agreement…and that also makes for good neighbours,” said Mayor Walter Jakeway.
As well, the fact that city council signed the agreement on the We Wai Kum’s land was hugely symbolic in terms of moving forward in a positive manner.
“This is a significant pact which enhances the relationship between the municipality and the band – we need to celebrate this,” said band manager Ken Cooper, who added the agreement shows leadership to other B.C. municipalities and First Nations which are also going through the difficult process of signing service agreements.
Under the agreement, which runs until Dec. 31, 2023, the band will pay city rates for water and sewer services. The We Wai Kum will also receive fire protection protection, animal control and building inspection for commercial properties.
As well, the band and the city have also agreed to pool funds collected prior to the signing of the renewed agreement to build sidewalks and install lighting along 16th Avenue within two years.
Approximately $258,242 was collected as development cost charge equivalent payments related to construction on Wei Wai Kum leasehold property.
Within two years of the agreement, approximately $190,000 will be spent by each party. Wei Wai Kum will pay for the upgrades from Ironwood to Dogwood, and the city will be pay upgrades from WalMart to Ironwood.
The remaining balance shall be contributed by each party toward construction of a sidewalk along Spit Road, including a pedestrian-activated cross walk signal at the Net Loft crossing.
The city is also working out a new services agreement with the Homalco First Nation – the current agreement has expired – the services agreement with the Cape Mudge expires in 2015.