The large, empty plot of land in downtown Kitimat which one held up the Kitimat General Hospital, has been given new owners and a new lease on life.
The Haisla Nation now own the land, which by next year should see construction of a commercial space, including shopping and a restaurant. Ross said interviews are ongoing for tenants to the space.
Premier Christy Clark made a trip to Kitimat to join Haisla Chief Councillor Ellis Ross and Kitimat Mayor Joanne Monaghan in officially recognizing the land’s new ownership, the event billed as relationship building between the three governments.
“This site is really about nation building. It’s about community building and it’s about partnerships. This will enable the Haisla, this transfer of land, to commercially develop this piece of property and that’s going to mean huge opportunities in this community,” said Clark to a crowd in Kitimat June 17.
Ross said deals like this will set a foundation for the younger generations.
“We’re talking about inclusion here of the Haisla people, and trying to regain what we’ve lost over the last 100 years,” he said. “We’re talking about reconciliation, but what really drives us as a council is actually developing a future for our young people today that need a job, and for our kids and for our grandkids. We shouldn’t be begging for opportunities in our own territory. This is a small chunk of land that we’re talking about today, but this is symbolic of what the Haisla want. We want to be included and we want to be put in a position where we can actually determine our own destiny, on our own terms, without answering to anybody.”
He thanked the province and the District of Kitimat for working with them to negotiate the sale of the land.
Monaghan said planning for the old hospital site was among the first meetings she had when she became mayor six years ago.
“We recognize that building a relationship during busy times is no easy task. However, when all of this development is done it will be the District and Haisla who are still here,” she said.
She said she’s spoken with Ross and indicated her desire to see a conference centre built on the space as demand for such facilities are high in Kitimat and would be a boon to the community to have.
While noting there have been stumbling blocks to relationship building in the past between the District and the Haisla, she said the two communities are starting to get back and that the municipality’s Chief Administrative Officer Ron Poole in particular has been doing an extraordinary job working with the Haisla.