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Westbank First Nation Setting Torrid Pace Chief Robert Louie leads WFN to economic development success and prosperity
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BY MARK MACDONALD Business Examiner Thompson Okanagan
W PAGE 18
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EST KELOWNA – Westbank First Nation has become a beacon to First Nations in Canada. It has a vibrant, growing economy, headed by strong commercial and residential construction, directly attributable to the introduction of Land Title Insurance. Forestry operations. The restoration of a sockeye salmon fishery from Okanagan Lake. Two underdevelopment wind power generation stations. The possibility of a private health care facility. All this without having a completed treaty with federal and provincial governments. Like most things in life, strong leadership spawns success. The transformation of West Kelowna is a shining example of that, as it has everything to do with Chief Robert Louie and his team of councilors. A University of Victoria law graduate, Louie’s first tenure as Chief ran from 1986-1996. He has served in the position continuously since returning to office in 2002.
Westbank First Nation Chief Robert Louie While disappointing, the 1996 electoral defeat allowed Louie time to work Key, transformational legislation affecting First Nation management that has allowed WFN to propel forward, including self-government framework. Combined with his time as Chief, Louie has gained approval of a WFN Self-Government Agreement
with Canada, successfully implemented the WFN Land Code and property taxation, and WFN brings forth continual annual budgets and profits. The heavy lifting that allowed WFN to make such substantial forward progress. His legal background and negotiating skills were invaluable, particularly as he realized that WFN desperately needed infrastructure before any significant development could take place. During his first term as Chief, Louie focused on putting state-ofthe-art water and sewage systems in place during his first term. WFN installed its first water system in 1988, after wells on reserve land went dry. Frustrated that WFN, nestled beside Okanagan Lake, even had water and sewer issues, Louie dug in. “We made a decision to exercise our inherent right to have access to Okanagan Lake water,” Louie notes. “Once we put the water rights in play, hooking up to the Regional District sewage system wasn’t a problem. “I recall threatening that we would be creating a deep-lake (sewage) outfall. When they heard that, they said ‘why don’t you tie
into our system?’ So it worked,” he said. “Also, access was needed for Highway 97, which ran through two major reserves. So we put that into our starting negotiating positions. It couldn’t be built without WFN being accommodated, one way or another. And it has.” Once that infrastructure was in place, it brought attention to developers who saw WFN lands as an attractive location to build and invest in.
LAND TITLE INSURANCE One of the game changing moves Louie made that has helped thrust WFN forward was the introduction of Land Title Insurance. Prevalent throughout the United States, Land Title Insurance provides certainty for developers and investors from any possible “rogue” councils tearing up existing agreements for political reasons. “Ours was the first in Canada, and set the standard that this is possible,” Louie says. “It protects investors from subsequent councils, regardless of who the Chief
SEE WESTBANK| PAGE 9
OUR 8TH YEAR
SICA Commercial Building Awards Deadline Approaching Canadian Publications Mail Acct.: 40069240
ELOWNA - The nomination deadline for the 8 th Annual Southern Interior Construction Association Commercial Building Awards competition is fast approaching. New institutional, commercial, industrial building, multi/single family, recreational or renovation projects located w ithin these regions and completed
between July 31, 2015 and July 31, 2016 are eligible for a Commercial Building Award, with the Gala Celebration set for October 13 at the Coast Capri Hotel in Kelowna. This event recognizes the winning efforts of the Thompson, Okanagan and Kootenay regions’ new institutional, commercial, industrial building, multi/single
For information or a free quote contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.tdbenefits.ca
family, recreational or renovation projects located from Kamloops to Osoyoos, a nd f rom Revelstoke to Fernie. T he deadline for accepting nominations is September 2, however, they can be submitted prior to that date, providing the project is completed by July 31 this year. “These events are all about
celebrating the best of the best in commercial and industrial construction and the people behind the scenes that make them happen,” says Mark MacDonald, President of Business Examiner T hompson Oka naga n newspaper, which coordinates the SEE SICA| PAGE 29
Published on Sep 1, 2016
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