12/10/2014 08:17 EST | Updated 02/09/2015 05:59 EST

Vancouver Island First Nation looks at heating resort town using ocean energy

SOOKE, B.C. - A southern Vancouver Island aboriginal band wants to heat a resort town on its land by extracting thermal energy from the ocean.

The Beecher Bay First Nation is looking at heating its 40-acre Spirit Bay development in east Sooke by putting heat exchangers and pumps into the ocean to draw heat from the water.

The band has received $40,000 from a clean energy business fund for the First Nations to research the possibility.

Beecher Bay Chief Russell Chipps says the ocean was traditionally a life-source for his people and so it makes sense to gather energy from it as well.

Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Minister John Rustad says it is another example of First Nations emerging as leaders in developing clean energy projects.

The planned Spirit Bay waterfront development is expected to be finished in 10 years, and includes 800 residential units, a town centre with offices, shops, and recreational facilities.