Ceremony marks ‘historic’ West Shore land swap

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A land swap involving Langford, Metchosin and the Beecher Bay First Nation received formal recognition at the B.C. legislature on Tuesday.


Community Minister Peter Fassbender confirmed the boundary changes by presenting the letters patent to Beecher Bay Chief Russ Chipps, Langford Mayor Stewart Young and Metchosin Mayor John Ranns.


“One of the highlights for me is when I can see communities come together with their First Nations neighbours and find a path to partnership and work together for the benefit of all of their peoples,” Fassbender said in a brief ceremony at his office.


The agreement sees Beecher Bay transfer to Metchosin three parcels of treaty lands totalling 250 acres. The parcels plus some private land will be protected as greenspace.


In return, Beecher Bay gets a one-third stake in a proposed business park with Keycorp Developments Ltd. and its investors.


The boundary changes place more than 350 acres of Metchosin lands within Langford, including all the land for the business park to allow access to sewer services.


The First Nation, Metchosin and Langford will share tax revenue from the park, which is expected to create several thousand permanent jobs.


“People say they work with First Nations and they want to work with First Nations, but these two communities actually do,” Chipps said.


“They stood up. They stood there and said: ‘Let’s do something and let’s get together.’ ”


Chipps said he hopes the project will help the First Nation improve education and housing opportunities.


“We want to bring our people back home,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of people out there that need to come home, and this is the start.”


Ranns said the project started out as a business deal. “But it’s become far more than that,” he said. “It’s a genuine unification event — reconciliation in the best spirit of it, I believe.


“Beecher Bay has always been friends and neighbours of ours, but now we’ve got a new relationship. Now we can both step up as equal and important partners in this region.”


Young said the deal allows Langford’s neighbours to share in the municipality’s success.


“This is a great, historic announcement,” he said. “This is the way we should be doing business in this province and across Canada, bringing everybody together and finding a solution.”


lkines@timescolonist.com


— With files from Amy Smart

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