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.
Westbank First Nation got involved in property tax as one of the very first nations that embraced property tax and that was in 1990, I believe. From that period on, it was a natural fit for us because we wanted to have, first of all, jurisdiction over the Westbank First Nation lands and the second part was that we wanted to receive independent revenue.
What is the size of your community?
I think one of the most interesting things about Westbank First Nation and it’s location and all of that is that we have approximately ten thousand non-member residents that help fuel our economic development. And we have over four thousand taxation folios.
How much revenue do you collect annually with taxation?
As of 2014, we’re collecting over 13.5 million dollar in tax revenue.
How had property tax supported economic development in your community?
The way it works at the Westbank First Nations is that when we had self-government- when it first came about- you had to answer three questions. And developers they could come in and they would say “Do you have a property tax system in place?” Yes we do. Because they want to know that they’re going to receive the same kind of services that they would anywhere else if they developed anywhere else. But they chose Westbank First Nation lands, so we can provide that to them; provide that certainty of being able to have the kind of services that they would expect anywhere.
Why did your First Nation get involved in collecting property tax?
Because we’re self-governance minded and to us having that jurisdiction- we had the jurisdiction to carry out and enforce. And we wanted that to be part of our lives and that’s what we’ve done.