This past year, the ?Akisq’nuk First Nation (AFN), located in the Columbia Valley near Invermere, became the first First Nation in Canada to implement a service tax under the First Nations Fiscal Management Act. ?Akisq’nuk is part of the Ktunaxa nation and is home to 300 members in the Columbia Valley, near Columbia Lake. The First Nation was one of the first to enter the FMA with laws developed in 2008. The new service tax will cover the cost of the water system infrastructure to a leased section of AFN’s lands named Indian Beach Estates.

“This is great for both the community and our taxpayers. Being the first First Nation in Canada to implement a service tax law, it’s been a learning process for us and we’re excited about where we are at. We’re looking forward to starting construction on the upgrades to the water system and the service tax law has been the biggest step to making that happen,” said AFN Chief Lorne Shovar. “Our taxpayers receive a direct benefit from getting the water system upgraded and for the community, it strengthens our relationship with our taxpayers. The revenues generated from those land leases and property taxes will serve the community for years to come.”

Indian Beach Estates is a recreational lakeside community situated on Lake Windermere located on AFN lands, just outside Invermere, with a head lease managed by Indian Beach Estates Management Corporation (IBEMC), which created the subdivision and provides services to the small community.

The water system was in need of significant repairs and maintenance, so IBEMC requested, on behalf of the property holders, that AFN provide the service and that the costs of the service be paid for by the service tax.

“The IBE community is thrilled to be able to start the construction on our new water distribution system. This will provide our residents and future generations with a stable and reliable system for many years to come. The relationship between Indian Beach Estates and AFN is very strong and we look forward to our continued partnership,” said IBEMC Board Member Paul Nevatte.
“This project is truly a win/win for us both and we want to thank Chief Lorne Shovar and Council for their hard work finalizing the service tax and the water infrastructure. Being the first First Nation to implement this service tax is truly an accomplishment.”

AFN developed a law for the provision of a water system replacement service for Indian Beach Estates and to provide for the costs of the service to be paid for by a service tax on property within that area of the reserve.

The existing water distribution infrastructure will be removed and new water distribution infrastructure will be installed for all the lots within Indian Beach Estates, with an estimated project cost at $2 million.

The service tax is a fixed rate charged each year to all properties within Indian Beach Estates for up to 25 years. All revenue collected from the service tax will be used for the sole purpose of the service. With the law enacted in November 2016, AFN hopes to begin construction this year with a target completion date of next spring.