VANCOUVER, May 9, 2013 /CNW/ - Seven British Columbia First Nations are calling on the Provincial Government and political leaders to commit to providing equal access to low-cost financing for public infrastructure construction.
The seven First Nations (Huu-ay-aht, Ka:'yu:'k't'h/Chek'tles7et'h', Toquaht, Uchucklesaht and Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ, Tsawwassen, and Tla'Amin) have completed, or virtually completed, the Treaty process establishing them as First Nation Governments.
"Our challenge is that we, as self-governing First Nations, don't have access to low-cost public infrastructure financing for our communities. Indian Act First Nations can access the First Nations Finance Authority (FNFA), and municipalities in BC can access the Municipal Finance Authority (MFA)" said Clint Williams, Chief of the Tla'amin First Nation. "But we don't have access to either one, and it is impeding our ability to build important services for our communities."
"As new governments with new laws, regulations and development plans coming into place to grow our economies, we need supporting infrastructure such as water, sewer, transportation and power," said Chief Williams. "All we're asking for is the same access non-Treaty First Nations and BC municipalities are getting."
For access to FNFA funding, changes would need to be made to the BC Treaty First Nation Taxation Act. Amendments to the First Nation-BC taxing agreements, known as "Real Property Tax Co-ordination Agreements" would also be required.
For access to the Municipal Finance Authority funding, the BC Government would need to authorize membership in the MFA and amend any required laws and agreements.
"We're not asking for a free ride," said Chief Williams. "We are committed to operating as governments with all of the finance, service and tax requirements that go with that. Our Nations are committed to become joint and severally liable with either borrowing group. We recognize that we need to provide financial oversight and intervention mechanisms as a function of joining a borrowing pool."
"We are currently in the process of seeking commitment of the leaders of the major parties in BC during this election period, and look forward to working with the BC Government after the election is over in May."
SOURCE: Tsawwassen First Nation
For further information:
Tom McCarthy: Office - (604) 948-5220; Cell - (778) 990-8622