Today the City of Colwood and Songhees Nation signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to establish a framework for working collaboratively with respect to the future of the Royal Roads Lands.
The Royal Roads Lands are part of the traditional territory of the Lekwungen, and lie within Colwood’s municipal boundary, but are owned by the Canadian Department of National Defence (DND). Recently, DND advised that they no longer had an operational need for the property and entered into discussions with Songhees and other First Nations about the future of the land.
“These were important lands for our ancestors who harvested resources and gathered foods on these lands” noted Chief Ron Sam, “and it is important for our young ones to have these areas back under our authority and jurisdiction.”
Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton sees the MOU as a positive step forward. “The City of Colwood welcomes this opportunity to strengthen our relationship with Songhees neighbours, and to document our shared interest in protecting the environmental, cultural, heritage and social value of the Royal Roads Lands.”
Both communities recognize that the Royal Roads Lands are uniquely significant; with hundreds of acres of old growth forest, pathways, waterways and ecosystems, bordered by Esquimalt Lagoon National Migratory Bird Sanctuary, and offering spectacular views across the Salish Sea. The area is valued by residents and visitors for its environmental, recreational and health benefits.
“It’s important for us to be good stewards of the Royal Roads Lands so they continue to be a special place for generations to come” said Chief Ron Sam.
Mayor Hamilton notes that the City has never had zoning or land use controls over the federally owned Royal Roads Lands. “This MOU offers the City greater involvement than we have had previously, to provide input into future plans for Royal Roads and to share information about environmentally and culturally significant areas,” said Hamilton.
Detailed plans for the Royal Roads Lands can't be made until discussions between DND and all First Nations who have expressed interest in the lands are finalized, and land is allocated. At this point the focus is on detailed research and information gathering to fully document every aspect of the land, with Songhees and Colwood having expressed a shared interest in seeing areas preserved as park space.
Read the full Memorandum of Understanding.
Sandra Russell, Communications Manager, City of Colwood (778-677-5345)
Christina Clark, Executive Director, Songhees Nation (250-386-1043)
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