KFN to allow home ownership

Members of the Kluane First Nation will soon have the option to own their own homes. And even if they don't opt for a lease agreement, they will have to start paying rent.

Members of the Kluane First Nation will soon have the option to own their own homes.

And even if they don’t opt for a lease agreement, they will have to start paying rent.

“This is a huge, huge milestone,” said Chief Math’ieya Alatini. “Just to implement rent is massive.”

Currently, Kluane First Nation members living in the 65 housing units in and around Burwash Landing do not pay rent. Only non-members who live there, such as some staff members of the First Nation government, have to pay rent.

But the push for home ownership has been gaining momentum since the First Nation signed its land claim and self-government agreement, said Alatini.

With significant housing developments about six or seven years ago, the issue had evolved to the point where lease agreements were drafted, she said. But the First Nation quickly realized that without a lands act, it couldn’t legally lease its land.

During a special general assembly last weekend, the Kluane First Nation passed its lands and natural resources act and tenure regulations. That means it now has the legal parameters and legislation for anything to do with its lands and resources. This could range from permits to lease agreements.

By April 1, the First Nation hopes to have “all our sheep in a row” with every member in the community signed onto either a lease or rental agreement, Alatina said.

“We have discussed options for rent geared to income, if you’re on a fixed income,” she said. “And the elders that were born prior to December 31, 1946 will be exempt. They will be granted their houses.”

The leasing formula the First Nation has taken on gives members a major benefit, Alatini said. It’s considerably below market value and is only for the material value of the home. As well, signatories will be given a deduction of $1,000 for every year they have already lived in there.

“But the lowest anyone will pay is $5,000,” she said. “That’s the legal fees to draft the lease agreements and the survey costs.”

Right now, the First Nation is only focusing on the current housing units, Alatini added. While future developments, by the First Nation, will happen, the aboriginal government is prioritizing the establishment of a “revolving housing fund” or grant system for members to build their own homes.

The leasing agreements are only available to Kluane First Nation members and no permanent sale of the land will be considered.

“We will never permanently dispose of our settlement land,” said Alatini. “That’s in our constitution and a lease allows us to renegotiate our lease agreements in the future.”

Along with its lands act, the Kluane First Nation also discussed its land-use planning, which will eventually become an official community plan for its traditional territory.

The First Nation has about 230 members, with only around 130 residing in the Yukon. About 24 voting members came out to the meeting, and everything was passed by consensus, Alatini said.

Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at

roxannes@yukon-news.com

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