The shíshálh Nation announced Friday that it has purchased the Porpoise Bay land that was the proposed Sechelt Sustainable Community (SSC) site for $15 million.
The announcement follows the B.C. Supreme Court’s approval of the sale on Jan. 23.
Chief Warren Paul said the 160.6-hectare (396.9-acre) property “was too good to pass up,” as the community needs land for housing, and the parcel is ideal. “It has three water licences and this means we could re-start the hatchery,” he added.
The Nation, which purchased the land through Tsain-ko Run of River LP, has also identified industrial and recreational opportunities on the waterfront, gravel resources, potential for subdividing the land and partnership potential for a hotel, said the band’s press release announcing the purchase.
The land borders Sechelt Nation Land 28, the release said.
SSC Properties Ltd. originally put the land up for sale after its rezoning application failed to get to public hearing at Sechelt council in March 2018. The asking price was $23.8 million.
In June 2018, Eagles Edge Capital Corporation started foreclosure proceedings against the company, claiming SSC had defaulted on a $10.75-million mortgage.
A court order for “conduct of sale,” giving Eagles Edge the exclusive right to “list the lands for sale until further order of the court or until the lands are sold,” was made in March 2019.
At various times since then the property has been listed at between $13.9 million and $14.8 million.
The court also considered at least one other offer, which according to a filing from Eagles Edge Capital was for $9.8 million.
The property’s zoning remains CD 13, a comprehensive zoning put in place about 10 years ago to allow the Silverback development, which included a golf course and 1,600 homes.
It’s not clear at this point, however, whether the land will remain within the District of Sechelt or be incorporated into the Sechelt Indian Government District.
Friday’s release said the Nation learned about the land-purchase opportunity in late December and that council consulted with band members extensively during the limited time it had to prepare the offer.
The release also noted that the band has been working with the province to identify 80 hectares of Crown land that could be transferred to the Nation for residential use.
“The Foundation Agreement states that if the Nation and B.C. cannot identify Crown land suitable for residential lands they can work together to identify alternate private lands. Council will continue to work with the province to complete this work,” the release said.
Coun. Selina August said the purchase was an exciting and historic day for the Nation.
“I felt very proud of my team and staff for all the work done over the last two-plus weeks,” August said. “I was emotional when the judge granted us the win because this is historic. But we now have a lot of planning work to do and now that we can slow the pace down with no time constraints, we can get that work underway with inclusive community-led planning.”
Coun. Keith Julius took a long view of the purchase: “Our ancestors did what they had to do to make sure we the shíshálh people will be here on our swiya practising our ways forever,” he said. “And these additional 396 acres of land that is now ours – this is part of continuing what our ancestors did for us.”