Victoria International Marina Developers Reach Agreement with First Nations Groups

A 29-slip Victoria International Marina planned for Victoria's Middle Harbour in BC is one step closer to becoming a reality. Western Asset Management (WAM) has reached an agreement with the Esquimalt and Songhees First Nations that will see them withdraw a litigation they commenced with the federal government.

In June of 2010, the Esquimalt and Songhees First Nations filed an application for judicial review of federal government approvals granted in relation to the megayacht marina on the basis they were not adequately consulted.

“We're recognizing the rights of the First Nations people and treating them like a partner,” says Lachlan MacLean, Vice-President of WAM Development Group.

While the terms of the agreement were not released, the deal will provide the Nations with economic benefits in the short term and over the life of the project. In return, the Nations are prepared to fully support the project as it seeks to obtain the necessary federal and provincial approvals.

“We are very pleased with the outcome of these negotiations,” said Chief Robert Sam of Songhees First Nation. “We are being acknowledged as nations and as governments with legitimate legal interests in our lands, and in this case, in the seabed around our lands,” said Chief Sam. “This is the proper way to approach a First Nation and to reach accommodation and reconciliation.”

Chief Andy Thomas of the Esquimalt Nation added, “We believe this agreement establishes a template for all future development into the Victoria and Esquimalt harbours. Over the past decade, our First Nations have become integral players in the economy of the Victoria area. We see this as an opportunity and a responsibility. This responsibility extends not only to securing the well-being of our communities but in ensuring the protection of our natural environment.”

“I am pleased we are able to come to a business resolution with the Songhees First Nation and the Esquimalt First Nation that acknowledges and respects their historic presence in the harbour area,” said MacLean. “I look forward to an ongoing relationship with both Nations as our project becomes a reality in Victoria.”

MacLean says WAM is still awaiting a response from BC's provincial government on its crown lease application as well as a response from Transport Canada on its updated Federal Navigable Waters Permit. “We had been issued a Navigable Waters Permit in the spring of 2010 but we had to apply for a new one when the City of Victoria down zoned the marina in September of 2010,” explained MacLean.