As Squamish Nation’s new council finished its first year in office, it has taken steps towards governance reform and housing while facing both victory and division on the environmental front.
After multiple delays due to deaths in the Nation, the new council was sworn in on April.
Throughout the year, councillors have been seeking to deliver on their promises for reform and transparency.
Live streaming services have been installed for council meetings and a referendum that will reshape the Nation’s politics has just finished.
Members have voted in favour of imposing a ban on corporate and union donations, a partial ward system will be introduced and strict conduct rules for politicians shall be enacted.
There is also forward momentum for additional housing, as councillors voted in favour of creating a housing authority for the band.
The intention is to create more than 1,000 units of affordable housing over the course of a decade with the hope cutting down a housing waitlist that exceeds 1,100 members.
On the environmental front, there was a major win for the Nation when a judge sided with the band, ruling that Kinder Morgan had not adequately consulted with Indigenous stakeholders.
That finding has stalled the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, and many members were elated, declaring victory.
However, a decision regarding the controversial Woodfibre LNG project in Howe Sound proved to be a divisive point of contention.
In a close 8 to 6 vote, the Nation’s council agreed to a deal valued at more than $1.1 billion with Woodfibre, the province and FortisBC.
The impact benefit agreement includes cash, land, and potential work contracts, as well as an option to buy five per cent of the project.
This has allowed the liquefied natural gas exporting facility to clear a major hurdle in its lengthy approval process.
It was a decision that some framed as economic reconciliation, but also one that elicited surprise, as several in the new council had taken vocal anti-Woodfibre stances while campaigning.