Situated 100 kms east of the Rockies northwest of Rocky Mountain House, O’Chiese First Nation (OFN) is one of several oil-producing First Nations in Alberta. With a registered population of over 1,330, primarily living in O’Chiese, the First Nation strives to create as many opportunities as possible for OFN to participate in the development of natural resources on their lands and to also provide new employment opportunities for its citizens.
O’Chiese has been taxing since 1998, but only recently joined the First Nations Fiscal Management Act (FMA). Over the last year, the First Nation has been working with FNTC to develop the first ever well drilling tax on First Nation lands. The First Nation Well Drilling Tax Law is a law First Nations are able to enact under the FMA. It taxes well-drilling companies for oil and gas exploration on the reserve.
Municipalities in Alberta and Saskatchewan are able to levy taxes on well drilling activities and the anticipated O’Chiese First Nation law will help to reduce the gap between First Nations and municipalities on the prairies in regard to revenue raising potential. FNTC has provided a law development grant to O’Chiese First Nation to provide access to legal counsel during the law drafting and review process. It is hoped the well drilling tax law will be before the Commission for final approval at FNTC’s fall 2016 quarterly meeting.