B.C. Land Act changes makes land ownership easier for First Nations

Legislative amendments to B.C.’s Land Act making it easier for First Nations in the province to buy, sell and handle land are in effect Tuesday.

Last month, the province made changes to its Property Law Act and the Land Title Act — Bill 13 — which, starting May 21, allows First Nations recognized under the Indian Act to legally register and hold land in B.C.’s land title office. Before this act, a majority of First Nation entities were not able to acquire, hold or sell land.

“The changes eliminate a discriminatory and racist legal barrier that added time and cost to First Nations land registration with the B.C. land title office,” the province said in a release.

Before Bill 13 was passed, the ministry said that to buy or hold land, most First Nations would have had to undertake additional administrative processes of setting up a corporation or use alternate arrangements such as proxies, federal trusts, societies and individual members.

Now, the province says, First Nations’ treatment through the ‘Land Owner Transparency Act’ will align with how the Province itself is treated.

“Ensuring that First Nations have the same opportunity to hold fee simple land directly represents an important step forward on the path to reconciliation,” the province said. “These changes ensure fairness by reducing barriers and costs that First Nations have faced when holding fee simple land.”

The province adds that the changes have no impact on non-First Nation landowners.

-With files from Charlie Carey.