Al Raine sees "more light at the end of the tunnel than I have in a long time" for his proposed Cayoosh ski resort, but last December’s Delgamuukw decision has also made the whole issue more complicated. On the one hand Ainsworth Lumber is preparing plans for a logging road into the Melvin Creek area, off the Duffey Lake Road, with the intention of cutting trees according to Raine’s plans for ski runs. The Lillooet Tribal Council has also indicated it supports Raine’s resort proposal. On the other hand, nothing is going to happen until the province, the federal government and the Lillooet Tribal Council come to some sort of compensation agreement for the Melvin Creek land. "I keep getting beat up by the natives on issues that are the province’s responsibility," Raine says. "The Crown says I have to inform and involve everyone in the Environmental Assessment process, but the natives say ‘don’t talk to us because we don’t recognize the process.’ "I can’t continue like it’s business as usual. I said ‘you guys have to resolve the issues.’" And that may be what happens next month. The Lillooet Tribal Council has indicated it is keen to reach a post-Delgamuukw agreement in principal with the provincial government that would allow economic development to occur in their traditional territory. The tribal council is believed to be drafting a proposal and the two sides are scheduled to meet next month. A compensation agreement specific to the Melvin Creek lands may also be discussed. Precedent for a site-specific land agreement has been set in northern B.C., where First Nations have been compensated for oil and gas rights. If the parties can reach agreement by the end of July, Raine intends to submit the final two studies requested during the Environmental Assessment process — a traditional land-use study and a cumulative environmental effects study — by September. If those prove satisfactory he should be issued an Environmental Assessment certificate. That would allow him to then begin negotiations with Crown Lands on a master development agreement. The Cayoosh proposal formally entered the Evironmental Assessment review process in December of 1996. If an Environmental Assessment certificate is issued in the fall, Raine hopes to do some limited cat skiing in the area next winter, which will yield more information about the valley and how the resort can best be developed. In the meantime, the province is doing its own independent study of the Melvin Creek area, to determine its viability as a ski area and its market potential. "I’m somewhat optimistic the province will resolve the Melvin Creek land issue (with the tribal council)," Raine says. He’s also hearing more encouraging sounds from the province as far as resort development. "The issues we’re facing now have certainly moved up on the provincial agenda from where they were a year ago," he says. But in the eight years Raine has been working on Cayoosh other issues have developed. Cayoosh may be in a race with the proposed Garibaldi at Squamish ski resort — and perhaps with Powder Mountain, too — to win provincial approval, given the limitations of Highway 99. (Raine says his transportation studies indicate Cayoosh visitors would have minimal impact on the highway during its peak demand periods.) There may also be a question of how many ski areas the region can sustain. But the biggest uncertainty may still centre around aboriginal rights to the land. The Supreme Court of Canada’s "Delgamuukw" decision has been interpreted to mean that where aboriginal title can be shown, compensation is due. The entire area claimed by the Lillooet Tribal Council won’t be resolved for some time, but Melvin Creek should be discussed next month. Delgamuukw also said that settlement of land claims is a nation issue, not a band issue. While Raine has been working with the tribal council from the beginning and has their support, he hasn’t been able to discuss Cayoosh with individual bands. The Lil’wat (Mount Currie band), Sekw’wlw’as (Cayoose Creek band), TI7d’kit (Lillooet band) are all part of the Lillooet Tribal Council and all claim the Melvin Creek area as part of their traditional territory. To complicate things even further, the N’Quatqua (Anderson Lake band) also claim Melvin Creek as traditional territory, but the N’Quatqua are participating with the provincial and federal governments in the treaty process, while the Interior bands have rejected the treaty process.


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