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Former Poplar Glade site to be purchased by Williams Lake First Nation

School board made the announcement Friday afternoon
School District 27 board of education has conditionally accepted an offer from Williams Lake First Nation to purchase the Poplar Glade site. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Williams Lake First Nations has won its bid to purchase the old Poplar Glade site.

In a news release issued Friday afternoon, School District 27 board of education noted it received five offers in response to the Request for Offers (RFO), all of which met or exceeded the base value of $975,000 set by the board.

“The board has conditionally accepted the offer submitted by Williams Lake First Nation (WLFN). Their offer contained no purchaser’s conditions and complied fully with the terms of the RFO.”

That acceptance is subject to bylaw approval in accordance with Section 65(5) of the School Act. The board will consider the three readings of the bylaw to approve the proposed sale at a public meeting scheduled for June 14 and June 28, 2022. Any written considerations or requests can be submitted to the secretary treasurer and will be taken into consideration before a final decision is made in respect of the proposed sale, noted the board.

What the land sold for, and who the other bidders were has not been revealed, though last month the city of Williams Lake said it would be making an offer on the land, which is considered a prime residential area consisting of six acres in the city, close to schools.

“Williams Lake First Nation has demonstrated an ongoing ability to complete first class projects while supporting the continued economic and social development of their community, as well as the broader community of Williams Lake,” noted the board.

“Upon completion of the proposed sale of Poplar Glade, the Board would increase its local capital fund to support improvements in other schools, WLFN would continue their leadership in the economic and social development of the community, and the City of Williams Lake would see this long vacant parcel of land developed as per their needs, in accordance with their bylaws.”

The board noted it has been working with local entities, including the city of Williams Lake and WLFN, as well as with government ministries, to make the Poplar Glade site available as part of the board’s ongoing work to support the city of Williams Lake’s growing need for housing development, and to generate revenue for the board to fulfill its statutory mandate to provide public education programs.

In an interview with the Tribune, WLFN Chief Willie Sellars said the decision by school trustees to award the sale to WLFN is exciting and a “wild step toward reconciliation.”

“It’s pretty exciting to see the support in the region. It’s a massive step in righting a wrong and holding up a light on the path to reconciliation.

Sellars said both Williams Lake and WLFN needs housing, and that is their plan for the land.

In a further statement issued by WLFN, WLFN noted the Poplar Glade site can address housing needs for their members, the needs of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people who are currently living within Williams Lake looking for permanent housing, and for others who are seeking to relocate to the Cariboo.

“We’re also very keen to work with (the) School District to address their need for housing for teachers and other School District personnel. Even in advance of the development of the Poplar Glade site, there is an opportunity for us to try to service the School District’s needs through the units that are to be constructed as part of the Osprey Nest project, which will be completed in Spring of 2023.”

Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb said they are desperate for housing developments in the city, and they look forward to that happening at the Poplar Glade site, noting they are happy to assist and work with WLFN as needed.

He said the city’s bid included a mix of medium and high-density housing with a two-year timeline.

Neither WLFN nor the city would go on the record to reveal their bids and plans, however, that information may be made public at the public meeting June 14.

Now that the decision for Poplar Glade has been settled, the city is now trying to obtain Crown land between the river valley and Woodland Drive to spur on development.

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Angie Mindus

About the Author: Angie Mindus

A desire to travel led me to a full-time photographer position at the Williams Lake Tribune in B.C.’s interior.
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