T̸IX̱EṈ (pronounced tee-quan) is a sacred piece of land to the W̱SÁNEĆ First Nations and has been used by the First Nations for as long as 10,000 years.
With European settlement, T̸IX̱EṈ became crown land. It was then transferred to Central Saanich in the 1950s. Central Saanich Council is taking steps to return T̸IX̱EṈ back to its rightful owners and stewards of the land, the Tsawout (pronounced say-out) First Nation.
In August 2010, Nick Page of Raincoast Applied Ecology did a very thorough study of “Cordova Shore Conservation Strategy”. It included Historical Information on Tsawout’s Winter Village, also as being a year-round source of food that Tsawout relied on. Reports on several species at risk were well documents in this report.
In September 2012 a T̸IX̱EṈ Restoration Project was initiated. The restoration efforts resulted in the successful removal of invasive scotch boom and gorse from the shoreline.
There were education opportunities through participation in the restoration and ethno biological plant tours at T̸IX̱EṈ.
Tsawout has always vowed to “Protect T̸IX̱EṈ”.
Adelynne Claxton, Tsawout First Nation
T̸IX̱EṈ is on the tip of a peninsula also known as Cordova Spit. It is surrounded by Tsawout First Nations land.
T̸IX̱EṈ has been used by the W̱SÁNEĆ (Saanich) First Nations for as long as 10,000 years for gathering seafood, collecting medicinal plants, spiritual reflection and even used as a burial site. Elders used to say, "When the tide is out, the table is set."
With European settlement, T̸IX̱EṈ became crown land. The lands were never developed but were at one point divided into 40 lots that were part of a 1913 subdivision plan. It was then transferred to Central Saanich in the 1950s. The land also includes a dedicated road.
The cultural significance of T̸IX̱EṈ to the Tsawout First Nation and other local First Nations cannot be understated. T̸IX̱EṈ is a place generation after generation has come to honour ancestors, gather with family and celebrate. T̸IX̱EṈ is a site for seafood festivals and canoe races, and the area and surrounding waters also offers many educational opportunities for members of W̱SÁNEĆ communities, including the LAUWELNEW Tribal School, and W̱SÁNEĆ Adult Education Centre, as well as by School District 63 (Saanich).
Central Saanich Council believes divesting T̸IX̱EṈ to the Tsawout First Nations in the right thing to do, and past and present Central Saanich Councils have met with the Tsawout First Nations about the process of divesting the land. Council declared 2017 a Year of Reconciliation, and made the T̸IX̱EṈ divestiture a strategic priority for Council in 2018.
There are a number of processes for Central Saanich to transfer the lands. These include: a series of steps to consolidate and create a single parcel of land to transfer; amending the Official Community Plan references to T̸IX̱EṈ; and to adopt a bylaw by which the park dedication on T̸IX̱EṈ is removed.
One of the more unique processes is the removal of parkland dedication from the lands. This requires voter approval. Council proposes to use the Alternative Approval Process to obtain that approval. This process provides voters with notification of Council's intent to adopt a bylaw that would remove the parkland dedication and give voters 30 days to respond should they wish council not to proceed. Should less than 10% of the voters oppose the bylaw, then Council has the authority to proceed with the park land dedication removal and take the next steps in divestiture.
The steps for divestiture are somewhat formal and prescriptive. Following provincial regulations and statutes, the municipality is required to provide notice of its intentions to the public and opportunity for the public to comment.
The following timelines are general and subject to change:
1. Official Community Plan amendments (park reservations and dedication removal) – the OCP has several references with respect to T̸IX̱EṈ. A bylaw will be introduced at council in early July to amend the OCP to remove these references. A bylaw amendment requires three readings at Council and a public hearing. This process will take until late August.
Alternative Approval Process – the process for public comment regarding the bylaw (above) will commence in mid-July and complete by mid-August. Should less than 10% of the electorate oppose the bylaw, Council will proceed with the park land dedication removal and take the next steps in divestiture.
2. Land consolidation – T̸IX̱EṈ is made up of several parcels from a 1913 subdivision plan. A bylaw will be introduced at council in late August to remove the road network associated with the 1913 subdivision plan and undertake public notification. Council will consider adoption of the bylaw in early September.
3. Transfer for of consolidated parcel to Tsawout First Nation. The final step is the legal transfer of T̸IX̱EṈ back to the Tsawout First Nation. At this time the Tsawout First Nation will seek an “addition to reserve”, a federally regulated process where the parcel is consolidated with the existing First Nation reserve.