The Campbell River Indian Band is streamlining its taxation rules to help spur more development and home building.
“There’s no new taxes,” promised Band councillor Jason Price. “The changes will make it more appealing for development. That’s the main goal.”
Currently, band members who own homes on reserve lands, as well as businesses which lease property, pay property taxes under an Indian Act bylaw. But the bylaw doesn’t provide enough accountability, said Price, and that’s why the band is moving towards the First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management Act.
“Bylaws can be changed by different councils, but under the new model, everything is accountable,” said Price.
It will also give the band better leverage to obtain financing for large-scale infrastructure, such as business development and residential subdivisions.
And band members want to build new homes on the reserve land. There are about 100 members on waiting list to build, but there are just four residential lots left.
“A lot more want to come back (to the reserve) but there’s no where to come back to,” said Price.
The band planned to build homes on the 35 acres it owns by the river, behind Home Depot. However, the land is unsuitable for residential development, said Price, due to high levels of naturally-occurring copper in the soil. Last month, the band bought 200 acres near Quinsam Crossing, beside the Cape Mudge Indian Band reserve. The Campbell River Band is now in the process of trying to get that property out of the Agricultural Land Reserve and reclassified as First Nations reserve land. Also, on June 3-4, members of the Campbell River Band will vote on a new land management act giving council more more power to enact and enforce bylaws.