VERNON – The Government of Canada is working in partnership with First Nations to support community-driven economic development projects that will help build healthier, more sustainable communities.

Today, the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services, congratulated the Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB) on starting construction of the Duck Lake Business Park. The Government of Canada provided $2.275 million through Indigenous Services Canada’s Community Opportunity Readiness Program (CORP) to support the business park’s infrastructure costs, including site preparation, earthworks and grading, road realignment, paving, water and wastewater servicing, drainage infrastructure, and power.

“On behalf of Chief and Council and the Okanagan Band we thank the Honourable Minister Marc Miller and Indigenous Services Canada for accepting our application to the Community Opportunity Readiness Program. We are proud of the fact that this successful application was submitted by our OKIB Group of Companies and the fact that this funding will provide the basis for advancing our locally based business development activities, provide local and regional employment opportunities and improve the economic outlook for our People and neighbouring communities in the North and Central Okanagan Region, said Chief Byron Louis of the Okanagan Indian Band.

“We, as Council, are proud of the fact that our OKIB Group of Companies has successfully undertaken, as our first initiative, the creation of our very own Business Development Park that provides over 300,000 square feet of commercial development space within our community. This development will continue to provide opportunities for our memberships’ longstanding entrepreneurial spirit, facilitate full-time employment and training for members and surrounding communities. The Community Opportunity Readiness Program will help support the continued local and regional economic growth, provide commercial space for developing quality business units in a strategic location.”

Once completed, this new development will make approximately 23 acres of new commercial lands available including 300,000 square feet of new commercial building space; meeting the high demand for commercial and light-industrial space in Central Okanagan. Long-term benefits will include on-reserve business opportunities, increased employment, job training, improved infrastructure, and the creation of new community revenue generated through leases, sales and partnerships.

The OKIB is located just west of Vernon, with additional lands near the City of Kelowna and have nearly 2,100 registered members, of whom approximately 825 live on-reserve.

The OKIB estimates the project will create 316 full-time jobs, provide training for an additional 145 Indigenous people, increase community revenue by more than $4.7 million, and generate nearly $73 million in economic benefits for the region over eight years.