The City of Nanaimo says it has inked a land transfer deal with the Snuneymuxw First Nation that will see 81 hectares (200 acres) of land returned to the local First Nation.

The property is called District Lot 9 and is located on the southwest slope of Mount Benson (Te’tuxw’tun).

The land was purchased by the city in 1889 from the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway Company. The city says it was originally bought so that it could be used to supplement local water supply.

The land has long sat untouched however, with all water diversion infrastructure in the area – built in the early 1900s – having been decommissioned. It’s now a heavily forested area with no other development.

District Lot 9 is valued at approximately $1.45 million. The sale is expected to be completed by March 31.

Funds from the sale will go towards Nanaimo council initiatives, like affordable housing.

“This disposition signifies our city’s dedication to Reconciliation and partnership with Snuneymuxw First Nation,” said Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog in a release Tuesday.

“It is a crucial step towards healing historical injustices and building a future based on mutual respect and understanding. Moreover, it provides capital funds to the city for important projects,” he said.

The city’s land transfer comes after the province recently completed a transfer of 212 acres of land on Mount Benson East.

The B.C. government completed its land transfer on Jan. 11, adding that the move supported the implementation of the Saarlequun Snuneymuxw Treaty of 1854.

“Returning Snuneymuxw villages back to our Nation remains a top priority for our People,” said Snuneymuxw First Nation Mike Wyse in the same release Tuesday.

“Today, we celebrate Nanaimo City Council and the provincial government’s decision to recognize their solemn obligations as agreed to in the Saarlequun Snuneymuxw Treaty of 1854.”

(City of Nanaimo)

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