The Williams Lake First Nations held the ribbon cutting ceremony for its cannabis gate-to-market facility on Monday, June 22. I congratulate them and wish them well.
There is some tongue-wagging going on about this venture and as with any event or discussion, there are different sides to the story. With this project some of the stories are misleading. As city council is taking a public survey on the matter, it’s important that survey responders have the stories straight before giving an opinion. I’d expected to have a copy of that survey Monday, before writing this column, but was told it wouldn’t be available until later in the week.
One concern is that because city has no jurisdiction over Indian reserve land, it won’t receive taxes, therefore the project will get city services free. The thing is, WLFN is self-sufficient, it doesn’t need many city services. It has agreements with the RCMP for policing, with the 150 Mile Fire department for fire protection, and with the city for water and sewer. Hydro is not a city service. If city services are required, I’m sure the Nation would be willing to pay for them. There is the matter of maintenance on that small section of Mackenzie Avenue passing the reserve, but again, if necessary, arrangements can be negotiated. This one could be tricky because there is some reason to believe the road trespasses on the reserve land.
This land was never “given” to WLFN, it was somehow missed when the original settlers illegally pre-empted what is now the city.
The bottom line is WLFN holds the high cards in this game. Chief Sellars is offering to work with city council. I hope Councillor Nelson’s attendance at the ribbon cutting ceremony indicates the city will graciously accept the invitation for “cooperation and partnership.”