Welcome to the O'Keefe Range Lands Information webpage. This page was created to provide members with the resources and information to help inform you about the proposed purchase of 2,310 acres of prime land located within the city limits of Vernon and only 10 minutes from the City's downtown core. The northerly and majority of the westerly boundaries adjoin the boundaries of the Okanagan Indian Reserve No. 1 while the bulk of the easterly and southerly boundaries are adjacent to the City of Vernon’s recreational corridor the Grey Canal.
March 21, 2023
OKIB to receive $30 million advance payment to fund O’Keefe Lands purchase
Canada and OKIB signed an agreement for an advance payment against the settlement of specific claim
There is reason to celebrate today as the advance payment from the Government of Canada against the settlement of specific claim will pay for the cost of purchasing the 2,310 acres known as the O’Keefe Range Lands.
“With this advance from the Government, we will own the O’Keefe Range Lands free and clear,” said Chief Byron Louis.
The O’Keefe Range Lands straddle the hills above the Bella Vista neighbourhood of Vernon, adjacent to OKIB Reserve #1.
“The purchase of the range lands was too important an opportunity to pass up,” Chief Louis continues. “We had to act to secure the lands for the generations to come, and so we held the plebiscite and the vast majority of members agreed with our plan.”
While negotiations on the specific claim continue, the opportunity to purchase the O’Keefe Range Lands arose, and Chief and Council took action to engage with members to ensure the support for the proposed purchase.
Members were informed about the various options to fund the purchase and the advance from Canada was seen as the preferred, low-risk option.
O'Keefe Land purchase plebiscite passes in favour
Watch the live feed of the vote count
O'keefe vote extended until February 4th, 8:00pm
The O’Keefe range plebiscite has been extended to February 4th due to the delays with Canada post to allow members time to receive and mail their packages.
Online voting will also continue and is a fast and easy way to vote. Click the red button at the top of the page to get started: https://www.onefeather.ca/nations/okib
After the polls close at 8pm on February 4th there will be a zoom live stream during the vote count. Members will be able to access the live feed at: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82177881774?pwd=Mk9Qb0RNZUdRdVhXT2hsZDhCNUpJUT09 or by visiting www.onefeather.ca/nations/okib and clicking the link there.
O'Keefe Information Package
One Feather Online Voting Instructions
Rewind: Watch the Jan. 18, 2022 Information Session
Rewind: Watch the Jan. 13, 2022 Information Session
The second O'Keefe Range Lands online engagement session drew about 30 participants. Feel free to watch the meeting and send any questions you may have to [email protected].
Rewind: Watch the December 7, 2021 Information Session
The first O'Keefe Range Lands online engagement session drew about 35 participants. Feel free to watch the meeting and send any questions you may have to [email protected].
Watch the O'Keefe Range Land video for a bird's eye view
Frequently asked questions
Recently, OKIB Chief and Council have settled on a purchase agreement to acquire 2,310 acres of land between OKIB IR#1 and the City of Vernon for a price of $26.8 million. Over the next 3 months the community will have the opportunity to learn about the land, the purchase agreement and ultimately vote on whether the community should proceed with the purchase. If the community votes against purchasing the land, OKIB will be refunded all deposits.
What has been the process of the purchase agreement?
When OKIB learned about the O’Keefe range land being put up for sale in the fall of 2020, Council had a discussion about the possibility of securing the land and instructed OKIB administration to begin discussion with the O’Keefe’s representative. Once discussions began, OKIB hired an independent appraiser to value the land. After going back and forth, a purchase agreement was agreed upon which gives OKIB 90 days to get community consent and then another 6 months to obtain financing to close the deal.
What did the appraisal report find?
The appraisal report confirmed the asking price that the O’Keefe’s had established based on recent market comparables. The asking price was $28.8 million and the appraisal report came back in February of 2021 with a valuation of $25.4 million. With the sudden increase of real estate prices in the North Okanagan this spring the appraiser supported a higher valuation.
What are the details of the land?
The land is made of 20 separate parcels and covers 2,310 acres of land between IR#1 and the City of Vernon. All of the land is in the City of Vernon boundaries and some of it has be approved for development in Vernon’s Official Community Plan. Only 19 acres of the property is in the ALR. There is the potential to add this land to the reserve quite easily as there are few encumbrances on the land (much different than Beau Park).
Are there unexploded ordnance (UXO) on this land?
Likely yes. Although no wide area assessments have been undertaken on the property, we assume that there are UXO’s found near the top of the property and would require clearance in the future. The appraisal and price reflects the potential of UXO’s. Work will be done to get Canada to help provide funding to clear the land in the future.
What are the steps in the purchase agreement (what happens next)?
OKIB has 90 days to do due diligence on the property and obtain community consent. Council has decided to hold a community-wide vote in mid-January to get a better sense of how the community would like to proceed.
What if the community votes in favour of the purchase agreement?
If a positive vote is obtained, OKIB will then have 6 months to determine how it is going to pay for the property.
What if the community votes against the purchase agreement?
The current down payment of $30,000 will be fully refunded.
How will OKIB come up with $26.8 million to purchase the property?
OKIB explored a number of options of how to pay for the property including borrowing the money, using some Canada Trust funds, and developing the land quickly to cover the costs. At this time there are two options:
- Option A: will be to get Canada to make a down-payment on the Colonial claim and purchase this land for OKIB. This acreage encompasses part of the land that makes up the Colonial Claim. While OKIB and Canada are getting closer to final settlement, the timing of that is still uncertain. With the final settlement set to be much higher than the purchase price, it makes perfect sense for Canada to ensure we don’t loose the opportunity to obtain this land parcel while it is still available. This parcel represents the largest tract of land close to or adjacent to reserve that OKIB has the opportunity to obtain.
- Option B: will be to finance the purchase of the land with a commercial bank and then quickly develop a portion of it to pay the costs of purchasing it. This option is not as ideal as it means paying interest to the bank, taking away funds that could be spent on programs and services.
What if OKIB cannot convince Canada to pay for this land? How will OKIB purchase this?
If we cannot come to agreement with Canada on purchasing this land and decide against bank financing, OKIB can decide walk away from the deal and we will get all our deposit money back in full. OKIB administration will update the membership regularly with these negotiations and ensure the membership is informed of all steps.
Does Chief and Council support this purchase?
Yes. Returning the land back to its original owners makes good sense now, and will certainly prove to be a wise investment in the future. Chief and Council support the initiative; however, they want to know your opinion.
“I believe it is our duty to return this land to the original owners,” says Chief Byron Louis. “The land is adjacent to our border and it will be sold to someone. Opportunities to expand the reserve do not come around often and we are in a good position to act. For posterity, we need to add these 2,310 acres back to the reserve.”
Here are some useful maps of the area that show various features and easements
- Tuesday, December 7, 2021 at 6 PM – Community Forum via Zoom. Click to join the meeting.
- Early January 2022 – In-person community engagement sessions
- Fourth week of January 2022 – Community Vote
- End of July 2022 – OKIB must come up with $26.8 Million to close the deal
Below is the information package prepared by Kent MacPherson who is representing the vendor: