First Nations and rural communities have always been inherently connected and reliant on the lands and resources surrounding them. Local access and control of key parcels of land can often be critical to First Nations and rural community development aspirations. Community Land Trusts (CLTs) are one potential tool to assist rural communities in managing lands for wider community benefit. Indeed, there are over 200 CLTs in the U.S, and over 175 in the U.K.
Recognizing the implications of an increasingly older rural population, growing levels of non-resident land ownership, affordable housing needs, and a broad-based rural desire to increase agriculture sector development, SIBAC is completing research on how Community Land Trusts could assist with rural housing and agriculture sector development objectives in British Columbia.
Lisa Byers, Executive Director of the OPAL Community Land Trust on Washington State’s Orcas Island, describes the history and operations of this highly successful organization and its approach to providing affordable housing — in perpetuity — for local residents.