Stz’uminus Chief John Elliott with Coast Salish Development Corporation CEO Ray Gauthier

Stz’uminus Chief John Elliott with Coast Salish Development Corporation CEO Ray Gauthier

Stz’uminus biz interests growing

Coast Salish Development Corporation vying for Small Business BC Community Impact Award

It’s protocol for the Town of Ladysmith Council to acknowledge at the beginning of each meeting that city hall sits on unceded territory of the Stz’uminus First Nation, but the band is not waiting for settlement of land claims issues to gain some ground back – economically speaking.

The Stz’uminus, through its Coast Salish Development Corp (CSDC) is becoming a big player in the local economy, and plans to grow its holdings to more than $250 million in the next two decades.

Their efforts are being noticed. For the second year running the CSDC has been nominated for Small Business BC’s Best Community Impact award, and is asking people to support its bid by voting at sbbcawards.ca – click on ‘nominees’ and scroll down to the Coast Salish Development Corporation link in the left column to open their nomination page.

“Coast Salish Development Corp is helping the Stz’uminus First Nation (SFN) realize its goal of becoming a self-sufficient community,” the site says.

Noting that the CSDC is a company wholly-owned by the SFN and its community members, the intro goes on to say, “In the seven years since its inception, CSDC has generated more than $10 million in profits with 20 per cent of all funds going directly back to the community.

“The remaining profits are re-invested into economic and land development.” Some of the projects in the works include:

• the 610 unit Holland Creek residential development above Holland Creek and Dogwood Road in Ladysmith;

• a commercial and retail development north of Ladysmith at the intersection of Highway 1 and Oyster Sto’Lo Road;

• an interest in developing an industrial zone at the south end of Ladysmith;

• an interest in developing what is now known as the Dogpatch (Water Lot 651) as a marina.

“CSDC’s activities have already brought substantial benefit to the community, including guiding the nation through adoption of the First Nation Land Management framework, taking SFN lands out from under Indian Act control and allowing SFN to develop and benefit from their lands,” says the web site.

A video on the site follows a bus taking Stz’uminus youth on a tour of the CSDC’s projects and promise for the future. Some of the scenes have to be played in fast motion in order to fit all the information in.

You get the feeling, though, that the video isn’t rolling fast enough.