B.C. Land Act changes proposed to make it easier for First Nations to buy, sell land

B.C. is working on legislative amendments to its Land Act which would make it easier for First Nations in the province to buy, sell, and handle land.

The proposed changes — Bill-13 — will specify that First Nations recognized under the Indian Act will have the legal ability to register and hold land in B.C.’s land title office. As it is now, the majority of First Nation entities are unable to acquire, hold, or sell land.

“Our policies and laws are often built on past colonial ideas and practices, which have created hurdles and roadblocks for First Nations,” Murray Rankin, minister of Indigenous relations and reconciliation, said Tuesday.

“With these new provisions, First Nations will have the ability to purchase and hold fee simple land directly, just as individuals and corporations have long been able to do. We are taking action to remove this long-standing and discriminatory barrier,” he added.

The ministry explains that to buy or hold land, most First Nations must undertake the additional administrative processes of setting up a corporation or use alternative arrangements, for example, proxies, federal trust, societies, and individual members.

The government, however, shares that the amendments will not “address additional governance powers, immunities or limitations of liability for First Nation governments or officials, nor do they affect relationships with local governments, which are currently addressed in Modern Treaties.”

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