Nine Ch-ihl-kway-uhk Tribe Society First Nations communities are set to become the first in Canada to establish First Nation property taxation on a jointly-held reserve. Recently, the Ts’elxwéyeqw took an important step forward in asserting their tax jurisdiction over Grass IR #15, a 65 hectare reserve situated in Chilliwack, BC. The First Nation communities of Aitchelitz, Kwaw-kwaw-Apilt, Shxwhá:y Village, Skowkale, Skwah, Soowahlie, Squiala, Tzeachten, and Yakweakwioose each enacted a delegation law, delegating law making authority over the joint reserve to the Ch-ihlkway-uhk Tribe Society (CTS). The laws are expected to be reviewed for approval at the next meeting of the FNTC.
Under the FMA, delegation of authority laws enable First Nations to delegate their property tax law-making authority over a reserve, to another body. The laws can be used to achieve greater efficiencies, Nation-building, or in the case of the Tribe communities, to enable a single property tax administration for a shared reserve.
Once these delegation laws are approved, the CTS will be able to establish a property assessment law and a property taxation law specific to the jointly held reserve and begin to carry out property taxation, likely starting in the 2017 calendar year. Under a management agreement signed with CTS, the taxation revenue raised will be used to pay for administration costs and local services, with the balance invested in a reserve fund for future capital infrastructure expenditures which will increase the development potential of the reserve.
Chief Willy Hall of the Skowkale First Nation commented, “The process has taken some time, and isn’t over yet, but we are happy that cooperation and unity on all sides will soon lead to us exercising our joint taxing jurisdiction on the Grass reserve via our own society.”
The FNTC estimates there are over seventy jointly-held reserves across Canada, and this groundbreaking work of the Ts’elxwéyeqw Tribe will serve as a prototype for other First Nations who wish to unlock property tax potential on their jointly-held lands.