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.
Background on community property taxation.
Squiala First Nation has 185 members. We are located in Chilliwack B.C., and we’re also part of the Ts’elxwéyeqw which is seven communities located here in the traditional territory and also a part of Stó:lö Nation.
When was taxation implemented and what is the amount of leases and revenues collected?
Taxation law was implemented in 2005. We have one head-lease for a commercial retail site and we have one agricultural lease. Under the head-lease for the commercial retail site we’ve got a number of businesses that amount to about 300 square feet of commercial retail space.
How much revenue do you collect annually with taxation?
Annually we currently collect 1.5 million in tax dollars and about 700 thousand of that goes back to the city of Chilliwack with our municipal service agreement.
Why did your First Nation get involved in collecting property tax?
We have a number of social programs that we offer support through the tax dollars. We also support education. It helps out with our administration and a number of initiatives that we’ve provided to the community through policy support for our elders and for culture and other initiatives.
What does property tax mean to you?
It’s a source of revenue and it’s also a way to implement jurisdiction over our lands. And what that is able to provide back to our community comes in the form of programs and services and additional help through our administration.
How had property tax supported economic development in your community?
Property tax had given us an opportunity to offer better support to our administration. So through our administration and our ability to work through our development and our economic development plan. We can hire the right people and offer a little more money to get the right people to do the right job.