The Okanagan Indian Band made a deal to purchase the vast lands of the O’Keefe Range overlooking Vernon.
For $ 26.8 million, the Band will receive 2,310 acres of land between the OKIB reserve and the town of Vernon.
The OKIB community will have the next three months to find out more about the field, the purchase contract and will also vote on whether the community should pursue the agreement.
If the agreement is voted against, the group will be refunded its deposit of $ 30,000.
The large expanse of land was listed in fall 2020 for $ 28.8 million.
Group members are to give their formal consent to the deal, which will be decided by a vote in January. The purchase contract gives the OKIB 90 days to gain community approval, plus an additional six months to secure funding to close the deal.
Two financing options have been proposed. The first is to ask the federal government to put down a deposit on the colonial claim and buy the land, as part of the O’Keefe chain is already part of a land claim between the OKIB and Ottawa.
The second would be to borrow money from a commercial bank and turn part of the land into a development to pay for it.
OKIB chief Byron Louis believes there is a need to return the land to its original owners and sees it as a good investment.
âI believe it is our duty to return these lands to the original owners,â says Louis. âThe land is adjacent to our border and it will be sold to someone. Opportunities to expand the reserve do not arise often and we are well positioned to act. For posterity we must add these 2,310 acres to the reserve. “
The property comprises 315 acres designated in a neighborhood plan as a mid-term residential development in the East Bella Vista neighborhood plan.
A statement sent by the OKIB indicates that the property could be considered suitable for development. Almost 300 acres of land are already designated in the official community plan for the town of Vernon for multi-family and single-family homes.
Key dates in the process include December 7, when a community forum will be held via Zoom. In early January, in-person community engagement sessions will begin and during the last week of January, the community will be asked to vote on the deal.
By the end of July, the OKIB must release $ 26.8 million to finalize the deal.