Grace Islet controversy ends as B.C. steps in to buy land

A controversial development on Grace Islet has been stopped after the province stepped in with a plan to purchase the land.

Property was being built on traditional First Nations burial site

The construction of a house at Grace Islet on the site of a First Nations burial ground has been stopped after the province stepped forward to buy the property. (Gary McNutt)

A controversial development on Grace Islet, the site of a a First Nations burial ground, has been stopped after the province stepped in with a plan to purchase the land.

The islet, which is located just off Saltspring Island, B.C., drew attention last year as the private owner began building a house on land that contains at least 16 ancient burial cairns.

According to a government statement, the province has partnered with local First Nations and the Nature Conservancy of Canada to create a "framework agreement" to purchase the land from the current owner.

The statement notes that as well as a significant cultural site, the islet is "ecologically valuable for its Garry oak plant communities, intertidal habitat and as a small component of the rare Coastal Douglas-fir ecosystem."

Contruction work on the house was halted on Dec. 18.

"Our ancestors can now rest in peace on Grace Islet," Vern Jacks, Chief of the Tseycum First Nation, said in the statement.

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