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Mount Currie may hold plebiscite on 2010 Games

The just-elected Chief of the Mount Currie band is considering holding a plebiscite or general assembly on the band’s involvement in the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

The just-elected Chief of the Mount Currie band is considering holding a plebiscite or general assembly on the band’s involvement in the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

"The people expect me to and that was part of my platform and so it is the number one issue on the table when the new council meets," said Chief Leonard Andrew, who received 73 per cent of the vote for Chief in Monday’s election.

"It was never really formally brought to the people so we have to figure out how we are going to do that either through a general assembly or a plebiscite."

There have been rumblings of discontent for months in Mount Currie over the 2010 Games.

Former Chief Allen Stager, now retired, and council signed an agreement last November with the province, the Vancouver 2010 Bid Corporation, and the Squamish Nation outlining Mount Currie’s role in the Games.

Andrew said the agreement stands for now, but he plans to study it carefully and will revisit it if the Mount Currie people decide they want something different.

"The agreements will stand for the moment," said Andrew, who has been Mount Currie’s capital projects manager for the last 25 years and was Chief from 1981 to 1989.

"I am in the midst of getting a copy of that agreement and I don’t know the details really and until I do I won’t know the direction that is best to take.

"But I will go along with whatever the people say on this issue and the new council, of course."

Under the agreement both Nations would get 121 hectares of fee simple land, contributions to various projects totalling $15.3 million over the next couple of years, job and training opportunities, and a partnership in the Legacies Society which will run the Nordic Centre, the Sliding Centre and the Athlete’s Centre when the Games are over. An endowment fund of $110 million has been set aside to manage the centres.

The Nordic Centre would be built in the Callaghan Valley, which the Squamish Nation and Lil’wat consider shared traditional territory.

Andrew, who admits to being a fence sitter when it comes to hosting the Games, said the Olympics must fit in with long-term plans for Mount Currie.

Chief Gibby Jacob of the Squamish Nation is hoping to meet with Andrew.

"I would certainly think that would be the logical thing to do," said Jacob adding it was premature to be concerned about Andrew’s stance on the Games.

"But this is his process and there is nothing I can do."

Sam Corea, spokesman for the bid corporation, said any changes in the agreement document would have to go through the province.

He said the call for the plebiscite and the change in Mount Currie’s government is similar to the situation the bid corp. faced when Vancouver’s council and mayor changed.

"It is not much different than the change in government in Vancouver," said Corea.

"There are and always will be on-going discussions. Throughout the life of the bid there will be many changes, but we have had a great partnership in place since the very beginning of the bid with the Squamish and Lil’wat Nations and we hope the partnership will continue."

Andrew also wants to look at unemployment, youth issues, treaty negotiations, and aboriginal title in the near future.

• The following were elected to council in the March 10 Mount Currie election (* denotes incumbent):

Lucy Phillips, Caroline Ward, Priscilla Ritchie, Joanne John, Raymond Pierre, *Ruth Dick, *Shirley Wallace, *Connie Wilson, *Morgan Wells, *Chris Irving, *Lois Joseph , * Martina Pierre.

A smudge and official transition to the new chief and council will be held on Sunday, March 16 at 7 p.m. at the Mount Currie Gymnasium.