Ottawa, Ontario (June 30, 2010) — The Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, announced today that a bill enabling First Nations to fully capitalize on major commercial real estate opportunities on reserve land has received Royal Assent.
Bill C-24, the First Nations Certainty of Land Title Act, passed through Parliament with unanimous support from all parties. The bill amends the First Nations Commercial and Industrial Development Act to allow on-reserve commercial real estate projects to benefit from greater certainty of title.
“The Government of Canada is committed to overcoming barriers to economic development on reserve so that First Nations can enjoy the same opportunities for wealth creation as other Canadians,” said Minister Strahl. “These new amendments close an important regulatory gap that has so far hampered the development of large commercial real estate projects on reserve land.”
The new amendments will allow First Nations to request that their on-reserve commercial real estate projects benefit from a property rights regime, including a land title system and title assurance fund, identical to the provincial regime off the reserve. The certainty of land title granted by such a regime would increase investor confidence, making the value of the property comparable with similar developments off the reserve.
The Squamish Nation, a strong supporter of the bill, already has plans to make use of the amendments to build condominium units on reserve land in West Vancouver.
“We believe that utilizing tools such as the amended First Nations Commercial and Industrial Development Act will enable us to compete for investment on a level playing field with our neighbours,” said Squamish Nation Chief Gibby Jacob. “The amendments will also support economic growth and job creation to the benefit of our membership and the entire regional economy.”
These amendments are in keeping with the Government's Federal Framework for Aboriginal Economic Development, which aims to increase opportunities for partnership-based economic development projects. An important step in reaching this goal is to enhance the value of Aboriginal assets by addressing legislative and regulatory barriers to Aboriginal economic development.
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