BRITISH COLUMBIA

Grace Islet First Nations Burial Site To Cost B.C. Taxpayers $5.5 Million

02/17/2015 02:12 EST | Updated 02/17/2015 02:59 EST

The British Columbia government is paying $5.45 million to buy a controversial piece of land from a private owner.

The province revealed the finalized details for Grace Islet, a First Nations burial site, in a news release on Monday. The amount is broken down as $850,000 for the land and $4.6 million for businessman Barry Slawsky, who had started to build a retirement home on the property.

"This amount represents costs incurred over the past two decades by the landowner and his lost opportunity for future enjoyment of the property," the government's statement said.

"Incurred costs include items such as utility installation and archaeological, architectural and professional fees; as well as building contract and material costs for construction of a high-end house."

Located off Saltspring Island, Grace Islet is home to at least 16 First Nations burial cairns.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada now owns the title, and will be working with the province and local First Nations to come up with remediation and long-term conservation plans.

When the province announced in January that it would purchase the land, the move was described as a "big success."

It "marks the start of a long journey towards true respect and reconciliation," Joe Akerman, who runs the Grace Islet Facebook page, told HuffPost B.C. after the announcement.

First Nations are going to hold a reconciliation ceremony in March.

See photos of Grace Islet:

Grace Islet, B.C.

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