Whitehorse Daily Star

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KDFN Chief Doris Bil and Ranj Pillai

YG, Chu Níikwän partner to open 150-plus lots for homes

The Yukon government has signed a $2.5-million loan agreement with the Kwanlin Dün First Nation’s (KDFN’s) arm’s-length development corporation Chu Níikwän Limited Partnership (CNLP), for a new residential land development project in Copper Ridge West.

By Whitehorse Star on November 29, 2022

The Yukon government has signed a $2.5-million loan agreement with the Kwanlin Dün First Nation’s (KDFN’s) arm’s-length development corporation Chu Níikwän Limited Partnership (CNLP), for a new residential land development project in Copper Ridge West.

The project is expected to create more than 150 lots for single-detached homes and townhomes, the government said Monday.

CNLP intends to sell its leasehold interest to the public at market rates.

The Copper Ridge West project marks the first large-scale housing development project on First Nations settlement land in the Yukon.

“It is a historic achievement that will help unlock the economic benefits of First Nation final and self-government agreements, and address Whitehorse’s housing shortage,” the government said in a statement.

The Yukon Housing Corp. (YHC) is administering the loan through its Developer Build Loan Program, which was recently expanded to include financing for residential land development in addition to residential construction projects. The program is designed to support more private and First Nations initiatives.

The loan agreement with CNLP is for Phase 1 of the Copper Ridge West project, expected to begin in the spring 2023.

CNLP may be seeking additional loans for Phase 2 of the project.

The total development cost for the project is estimated at $19.3 million.

“Our partnership with Chu Níikwän is a critical and positive step forward for First Nations and the Yukon government in addressing a shared interest in increasing housing supply in the Yukon,” said Ranj Pillai, the minister responsible for the YHC.

“We know we need to support more land development projects to accommodate our growing population while also providing exciting new business opportunities for First Nations

“Together, we are working together on building a future that provides all Yukoners with the opportunity to have a home that is adequate, suitable and affordable.”

KDFN Chief Doris Bill added, “Strong partnerships are the foundation of successful projects.

“As Kwanlin Dün First Nation’s development corporation, Chu Níikwän is continuing to build on past success and realize the economic potential of our final and self-government agreements. This project will make more residential lots available for Kwanlin Dün First Nation’s Citizens and for Yukoners.”

Chu Níikwän LP CEO Rick O’Brien called the plan a “historic intergovernmental residential project (that) lays the groundwork for much-needed, market-friendly housing solutions on Kwanlin Dün First Nation settlement land in the City of Whitehorse.

“Finding a new way to work together represented many real challenges and would not have been possible without unprecedented co-operation from all parties.

“This development provides a solid framework for other Yukon First Nations to pursue and build upon, and I am very proud to be a part of it.”

Apart from the Yukon government, First Nations are the largest land owners in the Yukon.

Settlement land owned by the KDFN and Ta’an Kwäch’än Council covers about 10 per cent of the total land area in Whitehorse.

“The Copper Ridge West project is indicative of a broader shift in the Yukon’s land development industry, where First Nations and private sector landowners are becoming increasingly involved in large-scale land development projects,” the government said.

In recent years, the KDFN has taken critical steps to prepare to develop and lease settlement land for economic opportunities.

To date, the KDFN is the only First Nation with some settlement land titled in the Yukon’s Land Titles Office, providing certainty of exclusive possession of that land for the duration of the lease.

In September, the YHC acquired the legal authority to expand its Developer Build Loan Program to support private and First Nations residential land development projects in the Yukon.

Comments (20)

Up 7 Down 1

The public deserves answers on Dec 5, 2022 at 1:48 pm

The Whitehorse Star needs to do an article on WHY the First Nations pockets 90% of the income tax paid by all the residents who live on their land, whether they are native or not, (notice that box you tick on your tax return that asks if you live on settlement land?) What is the rationale behind that? I have never heard an explanation. Is federal funding clawed back to reverse the losses to revenue? What is the big plan to make up for the lost money that is supposed to pay for health care and education, etc? You can be sure the First Nations will not be pitching in and building hospitals and schools with your tax money!

150 homes x 2 wage earners at $80,000 each (low estimate for home owners in the Yukon), tax estimate = $40,000 a year x .9 = $36,000 per lot x 150 lots = $5,400,000 in lost revenues for our governments. Will the rest of us have to make that money up through higher taxes?

$36,000 a year per lot in income is a 'pad fee' of $3,000 a month!!

Up 7 Down 11

Mr grumpy on Dec 3, 2022 at 10:32 am

It’s about time.

Up 16 Down 3

Jim on Dec 2, 2022 at 6:20 pm

@Annie, I hear what your saying. You do realize though how much else your income tax pays for. Hospitals, bridges, highways, welfare, recreation centres, fighting forest fires, etc, etc. Remember, the government, has no money of their own other than what you (and every other Canadian) pay in taxes. How much of this do you think KDFN will be supplying. Like you, the lease, as long as it’s secure I have no problem with it. It’s great income potential for KDFN. As long as they are supplying street lights, waster and sewer, garbage pickup etc., they deserve all the property tax associated. But if the city is paying for infrastructure and services, they should receive the property taxes. I’m not sure why income tax has to be tied to leased land. People lease land and buildings all the time. But income tax does not enter into it.

Up 27 Down 7

Anie on Dec 2, 2022 at 12:57 pm

I would have no problem with a secure lease, or with property taxes going to the FN so long as that FN provides all municipal services at no cost to the City. But I would have a huge problem with my income taxes going to the FN, That would prevent me from even considering the project.

Up 25 Down 6

Jim on Nov 30, 2022 at 8:04 pm

@Nathan Living. Sometimes it isn’t all about race. I have no issue with government loaning developers money as long as it’s paid back and everyone has access to the same opportunities. Are you ok with YG building infrastructures on leased land? They may lease built properties for various departments, but that’s not the same as investing in buildings on leased land. Mining companies usually don’t build houses, they may buy them. Short term residences don’t build either. And welfare housing built on leased land by YG should never happen for obvious reasons. Besides, the government has their own land to build on. Why would they wish to pay land leases, other than a gift? Also KDFN most likely don’t want government or welfare on these lots. As mentioned by others, they most likely want people who pay taxes to lease as they will receive their income tax as well. The other concern to me is that KDFN is basically a separate government in the Yukon and in turn part owner in a development corporation for profit. That would be like YG having their own development corp.

Up 27 Down 21

Groucho d'North on Nov 30, 2022 at 3:34 pm

I am pleased that FN settlement land is being openned up for housing. I am a bit displeased that KD is making this development with government money. With a functioning arm’s-length development corporation Chu Níikwän Limited Partnership, I had hoped they would show some independance and sought financing like any other private corporation to create this development. Still these are steps in the right direction and I wish them every success.

Up 49 Down 9

More $$ on Nov 30, 2022 at 3:17 pm

So Chu Niikwan is getting another loan for 2.5 million dollars, didn't they get a loan from KDFN for 8 million dollars a year ago? Like they say who's pockets are been filled because it sure the hell ain't the citizens.

Up 59 Down 8

not a racist on Nov 30, 2022 at 1:13 pm

Don't be quick to applaud the lease work in the Okanagan. I personally have a relative that had their 99 yr leased property (in the south Okanagan) pulled out from under them at year 20. Their house, work, the whole deal. "yeah you have 30 days to vacate, and we're not giving you an explanation". kinda deal. I agree with chilla "You'd have to have a head full of rocks to build on leased land." 100%

Up 52 Down 10

Chilla on Nov 30, 2022 at 10:17 am

You'd have to have a head full of rocks to build on leased land.

The FN would be better off building their own mixed housing and getting into a positive revenue stream leasing out homes and apartments owned and maintained by the FN.

Up 17 Down 47

123go on Nov 30, 2022 at 7:15 am

@Jerry Rhein...you ever heard of the Okanagan? West Kelowna? This is not a new concept or some plot or conspiracy. Leasing is a tried and true concept that works just fine elsewhere and I have no doubt it will work just fine here. I applaud KDFN for making some of their Settlement Land for housing development for the community. It's a win-win.

Up 11 Down 28

John - with a J on Nov 30, 2022 at 7:03 am

Jerry Rhein: This is really no different than any typical condo fee.
Imperfect, but better than nothing.

Up 51 Down 10

Max Mack on Nov 29, 2022 at 10:18 pm

A $2.5 million "loan" agreement? Or, is the plan to forgive this loan? A $2.5 million gift to the FN?

"CNLP may be seeking additional loans for Phase 2 of the project." No fricking doubt.
Not to mention all the other subsidies that will line FN pockets . . .

Up 70 Down 12

My Opinion on Nov 29, 2022 at 9:08 pm

Let’s see in the last year.

Northwestel turns over its fibre network to the First Nations.
Northwestel enters into an agreement to have the First Nation build their new headquarters on First Nation land. Interesting

Yukon Energy gives wind farm on Heckle hill to First Nation. And agrees to buy power off of them at very high rate.
Yukon Energy partners with First Nation on Nat Gas generation. That’s how things get done.
Yukon Energy partners with Atlin First Nation to increase the generation capacity and build line to Whitehorse in order for the opportunity to pay double for that hydro power.

Government gives 2.5 million to First Nation to develop a subdivision that they will lease to us forever. Oh and don’t forget in these land dealers they do not only get your property taxes they also get everyone’s income taxes that live on their Nation. Read the Umbrella Final Agreement.

It is long past time to wake up folks.

Up 60 Down 8

don't like it on Nov 29, 2022 at 8:03 pm

I don't want to lease the land that I'm going to build my house on. Who thought that would be a good idea??? We have land coming out of our ears here in the Yukon. Why would we need to lease?

Up 63 Down 10

bonanzajoe on Nov 29, 2022 at 7:23 pm

Anybody that would spend their money to build a home on land that they will never own, has to have their brains examined.

Up 16 Down 45

Nathan Living on Nov 29, 2022 at 6:59 pm

Good news, cannot wait for all the racist comments.

This will be great for government housing, mining companies, short term residents, maybe senior housing and the great need for social assistance housing.

Up 36 Down 2

Mark on Nov 29, 2022 at 4:19 pm

“Together, we are working together on building a future that provides all Yukoners with the opportunity to have a home that is adequate, suitable and affordable.”

I applaud more land development but take exception to the assumption (political statement) that this will impact the affordable home “crisis”. Even if there is a massive supply of new lots, I do not believe that this one variable (lot supply) will alter the trajectory of cost to build a home. The government/developer will sell at market rates, the trades people are not going to take a cut in salary, there is a shortage of trades people, interest rates will not go back to historic lows, building materials will not drop (or not significantly), and general incomes are not going to rise to over-combat inflation.

I offer my unsolicited advice.

Embrace reality. Do not expect that “government” will solve this situation (or any other problem for which it does not have the means or competence to do so). Live within your means. Adjust your expectations (2000 sq ft home, 2 vehicles, toys, vacations … really?). Upgrade/downgrade when it makes sense. Do not - repeat do not - forfeit your future by ignoring retirement investments early in life. Be that valued employee (secure your income), rent rather than own toys that sit idle 97% of the year. Take pride in saving, not spending and image.

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But I wish the new dogs would learn old tricks for their own good.

Up 102 Down 12

Jerry Rhein on Nov 29, 2022 at 3:32 pm

So, basically almost all home owners of the future in the Yukon will be forced into a lease where they’ll own the house but not the land. I don’t disagree with this for business, but it’s essentially turning the Yukon into a feudal state. Where eventually there will just be tenants in all but name. If people want to choose to live on settlement land, then that’s there choice and the risk they take. But more properties need to be opened on traditional territory so every person has a chance to own their own property. Let’s not wholesale go back to 13th century feudal Europe with our policies.

Up 75 Down 15

No conflicts here... on Nov 29, 2022 at 2:10 pm

Hahaha. Is this Ranj the Minister or Ranj the Liberal leadership candidate? Pretty big announcement 3 days after the leadership race was launched hahahaha totally a coincidence.
He knows how to spend government money that's for sure.

Up 35 Down 7

Just Sayin' on Nov 29, 2022 at 2:00 pm

One hundred fifty lots for single detached homes... how many lots do you think will be created?

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