New wastewater plant for B.C.'s shishalh Nation brings environmental, economic gains

SECHELT, B.C. — A British Columbia First Nation has signed a multimillion-dollar agreement with Canada Infrastructure Bank to finance a badly needed wastewater treatment facility.

A statement from the bank and shishalh Nation says the $6.4-million loan will deliver economic, environmental and employment benefits to the First Nation, located on the Sunshine Coast, 70 kilometres north of Vancouver.

The funds will support construction of a wastewater treatment plant to replace an aging facility which is owned and operated by the shishalh Nation Government District.

The statement says the new facility will upgrade effluent output to meet future standards, allow another 88 homes to end their reliance on septic systems, and will serve future developments, including those in the nearby District of Sechelt.

It says shishalh's 1,500 members will benefit from employment and training related to the project and will own the new plant through the shishalh Nation Government District.

A spokesman for Canada Investment Bank says in an email that it's expected the investment model could be adopted by other Indigenous communities across the country.

The project is the bank's first wastewater investment, and shishalh Nation Chief Henry Warren Paull says his members are pleased with the long-term funding arrangement, which he says "bodes well for the future."

"The agreement reminds me of why our nation decided to go down the self-governing path in the first place," Paull says in the statement. "It shows how issues can be meaningfully addressed through a collaborative discussion and agreement."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 2, 2022.

The Canadian Press