British Columbia Sun

RCMP probes B.C. First Nation staff associate sold land for 1/3 its worth


Key takeaways: 

  • Based on the outdated review, a land possessed by Westbank First Nation was valued at $5M but dealt for $1.5M.
  • A new report penned by former judge Marion Buller reveals how a portion of land owned by the Westbank First Nation was estimated at almost $5 million but sold for only $1.5 million.

Land sold at its 1/3 value: 

The elected chief of Westbank First Nation vows swift action, including a criminal probe, following disclosures that a staff associate dealt a plot of land estimated at more than $5 million for less than a third of its worth.

The discoveries come from an autonomous report penned by ex-judge Marion Buller, who was requested to look into the March 2021 sale of approximately 60 hectares of land in Peachland, B.C., to a numbered firm for just $1.5 million, a figure that was based on a 12-year-old assessment.

Buller noted that she saw “substandard” land management and its sale, thanks to the “actions and inactions” of current and ex-Westbank chiefs and council, legal assistance, and the Nation’s former chief executive officer.

Chief Christopher Derickson informed CBC that RCMP has already opened a probe into the case.

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Land sold by the First Nation at the 1/3 value

“This land was purportedly sold without proper permission, and finally that purported sale of these lands without an updated appraisal has cost the nation millions of dollars,” he stated.

He believed the report “unquestionably revealed numerous failures” of the Nation’s government and promised to do what is required to resolve the issues Buller identified.

“I want the members to know that we are taking this very thoughtfully,” Derickson said. “We are welcoming the responsibility and scrutiny of our membership.”

Buller’s report recognizes the staff associate liable for the sale as Raf De Guevara, a director of intergovernmental matters and title and rights for the Nation. 

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