Change of Course for First Nations
The deal to purchase 40 acres on the southwest corner of Willingdon Avenue and Canada Way in Burnaby by two First Nations bands is a sign of things to come, according to the CAO.
Doug Raines of the Musqueam Indian Band says the land acquisition (for just under $58M) is part of an economic development strategy to “pursue every opportunity we have to expand the wealth base of the community.” Commercial real estate development is one way to do that; the band created the Musqueam Capital Corp for that very reason. Tsleil-Waututh Nation was also involved in the Willingdon lands deal, which had been government owned. In the image are celebrations during the signing last week of a First Nations Protocol Agreement, where bands will work together to acquire and develop property, like the Willingdon Lands deal.
A big advantage in the deal, Doug says, are the three-year leases that remain in the series of buildings (image) that are on site. That gives them a revenue stream until they can sit down with the municipality of Burnaby to determine, the best land usage for the property. There might be some civic initiatives as part of the development, but anything they do will complement what the city is doing elsewhere in the community, Doug says.