You have to wonder about the timing of the provincial government’s announcement that it is ready to appoint a receiver for Apex Resort if the ski area doesn’t repay its $8 million loan, with interest, by Aug. 2. An official with the Ministry of Employment and Investment says its just business; Apex hasn’t come forward with any bona fide investors since the loan. Premier Glen Clark says there hasn’t been a native road block of the road to Apex in two years. But given the track record of the government the issue warrants a second look. Apex says it was precisely because the province was so slow to act to end the 1994 native blockades that it needed financial assistance. And while there may not have been any blockade last fall the threat of a blockade hung over the resort, which didn’t do anything to help investor confidence. A member of the Penticton Indian band, one of three bands to blockade the road, said he was suspicious of the province’s timing. Apex President Mel Reeves has suggested the province might be trying to shut down the resort so the natives have less to bargain with; i.e., if the resort isn’t open no one’s going to care if the road is blocked. More cynical observers have suggested that because the Apex riding is no longer NDP the province feels it has nothing to lose by putting the resort in receivership. It’s unlikely the move has anything to do with the province’s recently discovered financial problems; $8 million isn’t going to make much of a dent when the deficit could be as much as $700 million. There may be something to Reeves’ theory, given that the NDP came under some criticism during the election for being too soft on native land claims. Perhaps the government has a buyer for the resort in mind. Of course, Apex didn’t win any special favours from the province with the $125 million law suit it has been threatening for the last year, claiming the blockades caused construction delays and scared away investors. Any solution to the mess has to involve all three players, Apex, the native bands and the province. For the moment the province holds the trump card, calling in the loan. But the province is also the party that will ultimately set the parameters all ski resorts and native bands in this province work under. It should get on with that larger task rather than forcing the present, smaller "business" deal.


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