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Comox native band in partnership with construction company
The K’ómoks First Nation has signed a revenue-sharing agreement with construction company Britco to build modular buildings and rental projects on the band's traditional territory.
"The times have changed where people are actually wanting to work with First Nations and looking at opportunities of how we can work together, and how can everybody have a win-win situation and prosper in this great area that we live in," said band manager Melinda Knox, CEO of the K’ómoks Economic Development Corporation.
KFN Chief Robert Everson credits Britco for designing and building large construction projects in a safe and sustainable manner.
With about 1,000 employees in North America and Australia, the Langley-based Britco builds residential and commercial modular buildings, conducive to temporary and permanent residence. The company has an office in Nanaimo.
Anything the company does on KFN traditional territory means revenue sharing — be it selling a pencil or constructing a hotel, says Kareem Allam, Britco's director of aboriginal relations.
The latest agreement is the seventh First Nations partnership the company has signed in B.C. The light bulb went on after Britco partnered with the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation in North Vancouver.
By the third or fourth month, the company was making more money than it was investing. Britco has since signed partnerships in Prince George, Prince Rupert and Fort St. John, each of which is paying off.
"They've been phenomenal business partners everywhere we've gone," Allam said.
Britco president Mike Ridley says the KFN will provide advice and expertise in a "growing part of Vancouver Island."
At the outset, the two parties will secure the construction of rental opportunities for the John Hart Dam in Campbell River and other construction projects. They will also combine on opportunities that require design-build construction management expertise.
"You don't invest in building hospitals in a community where the population is shrinking. K’ómoks is a community we've identified as very strategic for us in the future," Allam said, noting the company anticipates Texada Island as a future hub of activity.
"This is very much a partnership of equals where we're getting a lot of value. It's been fantastic for our business, and it's great for the First Nation."
As per the agreement, Britco will provide skills training and employment opportunities to band members, and scholarships through a program dubbed Indspire to help aboriginal students obtain a post-secondary education.
The KFN hosts a celebration of the partnership the evening of April 24 at the I-Hos Gallery, which has undergone renovations.