First Nations Tax Commission – Commission de la fiscalité des premières nations
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Squamish Nation

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The FNTC undertook a video project profiling First Nations to celebrate their successes in using property taxation to build their economies and generate revenues. The intent was to revisit the past 25 years of First Nation property taxation in Canada and allow First Nations themselves to share how property taxation has impacted their community and what it means to them.

Squamish Nation video transcript

Background on community property taxation.
My name is Harold Calla, I’m a member of the Squamish First Nation, and for eighteen years I was the surveyor of taxes for the Squamish Nation. I’m now the chair of the First Nations Financial Management board. Our community has twenty three different reserves that stretch from downtown Vancouver: Lavar Bridge to Whistler, to the Sunshine Coast. It has probably about eighteen hundred acres of land right in downtown Vancouver.

Why did your First Nation get involved in collecting property tax?
It was 1993 when the Squamish nation entered into property taxation. In 1993 we had about 280 Million in accessed value and about three and a half million in property taxes. We’re now at 1.2 Billion dollars at assessed value and 9.7 Million a year in property taxes.

What does property tax mean to you?
Property tax, for the Squamish Nation meant the ability to exercise their views on self-government. To have the ability to raise revenue off their lands as other orders of government did.

How has property tax supported economic development in your community?
Since 1994, as I’ve said, our accessed values have increased six times, and of that, it’s not just inflation that’s created that, there’s been about six hundred millions dollars in cash investments made in the projects in Squamish reserves lands. So it’s built investor confidence, we’ve created a frame work that people appreciate and feel is fair. So it’s having the ability to have these service arrangements, having the ability to ensure that all of our rate payers were receiving the services for which they were paying taxes for. It was important to the Nation, as was exercising what we believe was our right to have fiscal powers over our reserve lands.

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