First Nation in BC is driving wealth through real estate

By Steve Randall

The small Westbank First Nation in British Columbia have driven individual wealth through property rights according to a new study.

The Fraser Institute says that the community’s property rights, which are similar to Canadian property law, allows members to acquire allotments to buy and sell real estate on and off reserve.

Westbank’s developments include the Okanagan Lake Shopping Centre and WIBCO Construction, which develops residential and commercial properties mainly on reserve lands near Kelowna.

“Westbank has created an environment where band members can create wealth that benefits both the individual and the community,” said Tom Flanagan, Fraser Institute senior fellow, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Calgary and author of Property Rights and Prosperity: A Case Study of Westbank First Nation.

Soaring values
With soaring property values – up 600% from the establishment of the allotments in 2005 – total value of Westbank’s real estate is more than $2 billion.

Real estate has helped Westbank independently generate 63% of its revenue, far higher than the 36% average for Canada’s First Nations.

“Put simply, Westbank is a much more independent and empowered First Nations community because of its prosperity,” Flanagan said.

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