K’ÓMOKS FIRST NATION, B.C – A milestone has been passed for water management in the Comox Valley.

Today, the K’ómoks First Nation (KFN) and the Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) signed a Mutual Benefit Agreement for management of water resources in the valley. According to the district, this confirmed cooperation and collaboration between the two parties.

The agreement includes plans to extend water services to K’ómoks lands south of Royston in future, and more participation from KFN in the management of the region’s water resources. KFN has also stated their support for the district’s water treatment project and their water license application.

The district and KFN have also agreed to “collaboratively manage and conserve” water resources throughout the Valley.

K’omoks First Nation is proud of the relationship built with the CVRD over the past few years and looks forward to strengthening that relationship with the signing of this agreement and other future agreements and initiatives, a release notes.

K’ómoks First Nation Chief Nicole Rempel said this agreement is “an important milestone” towards building a meaningful relationship and partnership between KFN and the CVRD.

“To First Nations and literally every living thing on earth, water is life,”  Rempel added, during the ceremony. “The protection and conservation of water means everything to myself and to K’ómoks First Nation.”

Rempel noted that the agreement is a step forward in building positive relationships between KFN and the municipalities, and in particular with the CVRD.

“These relationships are important to KFN so we we can continue to play an active role in the decisions being made in our territory, that impact not only the general public but most importantly our members and our territory,” Rempel said.

“And this is a great accomplishment in a time of reconciliation.”

CVRD chair Bruce Jolliffe said the agreement achieves the district’s goal of recognizing that water is a shared interest between K’ómoks First Nation and the regional district.

“It also provides a clear framework of how we will work together now, and in the future, to ensure this important resource is managed, protected, and remains available for all of us,” Jolliffe added.

Calling the agreement a “historic achievement,” CVRD water committee chair Bob Wells thanked the directors on the water committee who represent Courtenay, Comox and the district’s three electoral areas.

“Their unanimous support of this agreement is testament to our intentions moving forward,” Wells said.

“We are united in the shared importance we feel towards water,” Wells said. “While that may seem like an oversimplified statement, it cannot be understated. We have come to understand the waters flowing through this valley hold a deep cultural significance to your history and community.”

Wells said, “This is reconciliation in action.”

The agreement confirms:

– Once funding is secured, the CVRD will initiate a water service extention project to service KFN lands to the south of Royston. Funding for the project will be provided by KFN and developments that will connect to the future system. Decisions about supplying water to Royston will be part of a separate planning process that is not part of this agreement.

– Upon completion of the project, the CVRD will supply water in bulk that is purchased by the KFN to develop and service its lands.

– KFN will support the Comox Valley Water Treatment Project, including a water license application from the Ministry of Forest Lands Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development for both the water treatment project and the future water service (south) extention project.

– KFN will participate in the management of regional water resources including future participation in the governance structure of the Comox Valley Water System.

– The CVRD will ensure that business opportunities are identified for KFN businesses to work on both the Comox Valley Water Treatment Project and the future water service (south) extension project.