The Kwiakah First Nation is looking to lease some Crown land at the old Campbell River Gun Range to create a community garden for its members and a series of greenhouses to sell produce to cover operational costs. Black Press File Photo

Kwiakah First Nation looks to open farm at old Campbell River gun range

City defers decision on allowing it until they can consult with other local First Nations

Campbell River city council has deferred a decision on whether or not to support a lease of Crown Land within the community by the Kwiakah First Nation that would see them set up a community garden and urban farm near the old gun range on Argonaut Road.

Council was being asked to support the request at its first meeting of the year Jan. 11, but said it’s premature for them to do so before they confirm with the other local bands that the project has their support, as well.

The proposed plan is for the Kwiakah First Nation to build a series of raised garden beds and small greenouses on the property for its members to access. The raised beds would be for members to grow their own food for their families, while the greenouses would be used to create produce that would be sold to cover operational costs for the band.

The Kwiakah First Nation is one of the smallest bands in B.C., Almost all of its approximately 20 members live in Campbell River, though their traditional territory is in the Phillips Arm area of the mainland.

“In addition to providing healthy food choices and education, the Kwiakah Nation is planning on generating sufficient income from the urban farm by selling excess produce to cover operational costs and other related expenses,” reads the report to council. “Excess produce may be sold from the on-site farm stand and to local restaurants and markets.”

While the report from staff was recommending the city approve the lease, as it conforms to the zoning already in place for the property, council decided they should check with the other local bands to make sure they were in favour before proceeding. The report said it was “understood that consultation with area First Nations has already taken place,” but there was no documentation to show that.

Coun. Claire Moglove asked staff what kind of consultation had actually taken place and was told by development planning supervisor Andy Gaylor, “that paragraph was taken from the submission from the province,” and that while discussions have taken place, he’s unclear as to how much or the level of support the project has from the local bands.

“I would certainly like to see confirmation that there is no issue with the bands we currently work with,” says Coun. Charlie Cornfield. “My recollection is that when the gun club gave up that portion of their crown lease, it was designated as treaty lands for the We Wai Kai, and I would like to be very sure – it could be as simple as a call to the chiefs themselves – and get confirmation [that the other bands are in support].”

The rest of council agreed, and the decision was deferred.

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