Kitselas First Nation has plans to spend nearly $3.5 million, but part of that sum is awaiting a signed agreement from the federal government.
A $1.5 million compensatory deal for land that was cut off Kitselas’ most easterly reserve is currently waiting for federal approval.
But the local First Nations community recently signed an agreement with the Prince Rupert Port Authority in return for settling issues tied to the authority’s container port expansion. It was approved by the federal government.
“We’ll be getting it, but we’re being told what we can spend it on,” said Kitselas councillor Judy Gerow about money coming from the port agreement.
“The government wants us to spend it on training and economic development.”
However, should the other deal go through, no spending restrictions will be in place for the money.
“There are typically no restrictions in place on compensatory claims,” Kitselas chief councillor Glenn Bennett said.
“We’re looking at employment opportunities and an employment councillor,” Bennett said about Kitselas’ plans for the port money.
“We have so many projects that are being proposed,” he said. “We want to start preparing our people for employment with the [Northwest Transmission Line Project, Pacific Trail Pipeline] and maybe even Rio Tinto [Alcan].”
Money from the other deal will go toward building a cultural community centre.
But Bennett said these buildings typically cost $3 to 5 million.
“In a year and a half, we will have enough money to proceed toward construction,” he said.
“We have approximately $2 million already set aside,” Bennett said. “Over the last 10 years, we’ve been saving the money.”
Kitselas hopes the deal that will compensate them for lost land will be signed by the end of March.
“Approximately 42 acres was cut off when the reserves were allocated,” Bennett said, referring to negotiations in the early 1900s.
This is about 50 km east of Terrace around the Doreen Creek area.
Kitselas is located about 15 km east of Terrace off Hwy 16.