Echo Heights is 54-acres of forested land owned by the municipality in Chemainus.

Echo Heights is 54-acres of forested land owned by the municipality in Chemainus.

Echo Heights may draw lawsuit

New documentary suggests
First Nations could take action

Echo Heights is once again facing opposition — this time from the First Nation tribes surrounding the Chemainus site according to a press release issued on March 28.

The 54-acre municipally-owned forest is a potential area for a housing development.

“Echo Heights is a significant place for people on spiritual journeys to the mountains,” said Mark Kiemele, chair of the Chemainus Resident’s Association. “It is significant culturally.”

There is a possibility of the tribes taking legal action against North Cowichan if the development goes forward — an idea brought forth from a recent film.

The documentary, by filmmaker Holly Pattison, shows elders speaking on what the land means to them and why it’s so important.

“There is a very serious potential for one or all of the First Nations affected to launch a court action because their rights have been infringed,” Johnnie says in the film. “Many have done that in the past.”

Kiemele said one of the concerns for the First Nations, including Penelakut, Halalt, Lyackson and Stz’uminus, is being pushed out of the picture.

“It becomes unavailable for the First Nations once it’s sold,” he said. “Legally there’s a really strong case there.”

Kiemele said the municipality has been accused of not consulting with the First Nations on certain issues.

North Cowichan council recently directed staff to draft a comprehensive development plan for Echo Heights. The proposed development would be 40 per cent residential property and 60 per cent parkland.

The filmmaker, representatives from North Cowichan or the First Nations communities mentioned were not available for comment at press time. Pick up next week’s Chronicle for more on the issue.

To view the film visit vimeo.com/21469050.