Mount Currie votes for land deal 

MLA urges recreational users to talk with band, Pemberton council releases details

By Clare Ogilvie and Adam Daff

The majority of the Mount Currie band have voted in favour of a referendum which will see the community get 600 acres of Crown land and other benefits in return for traditional territory lost in the upgrading of the Sea to Sky Highway.

"We were pleased with the outcome," said Chief Leonard Andrew, who was recently acclaimed as chief for another two-year term.

But concern has been raised by some in Pemberton over how the transfer of land to the First Nation will impact residents.

Liberal MLA Ted Nebbeling said he had received calls from people worried that they would lose their homes or cottages in the transfer.

"If they had a cabin on the lake and they had bought it they wanted to have assurance that they won’t have to move, and the fee-simple title will guarantee that," he said from Victoria.

But the Pemberton council did a lot to prevent a cycle of speculation when it released a statement Tuesday detailing exactly what parcels of land it was setting aside for the Mount Currie band.

The only ongoing concern the council indicated it might have is that Pemberton’s visitor centre is located on the lot being transferred to the Lil’wat Nation. But that visitor centre is not a large permanent structure so it could be moved to another location.

"The only land within the Village that is being transferred is the 8.2 acre parcel fronting on the south side of Highway 99 and is currently occupied by Mainroad Howe Sound Contracting (and the visitor’s centre)," Mayor Elinor Warner said in the press release.

"The only option land (going to Mount Currie) within the Village is an 8.5 acre parcel of Agricultural zoned land on the east side of Pemberton Meadows Road, south of Collins Road.

"The Village Council is looking forward to working with the Lil’wat Nation to develop a vision for this property. Working together as communities will benefit all of our residents."

Chief Andrew confirmed earlier the other parcels of land under discussion was the area around Ivey and Mosquito Lakes, a popular hiking, mountain biking and hunting area for local residents.

"But we haven’t finalized anything really," said Andrew. "We are just prioritizing some parcels of land and we are still analyzing the lands we are looking at, so I don’t think it is an issue yet.

"I’m not sure why people are getting excited about one parcel versus another.

"Things like that have been happening to us for years."

He hopes a final deal will be brokered by the time the province goes to the polls May 17.

The land under discussion is next to the existing reserve, said Andrew, adding that it will be used for the community.

If the First Nation is awarded the Ivey Lake area it will be for "economic purposes," said Andrew.

Rod MacLeod of the Pemberton Valley Trails Association said it is too soon for people to set off alarm bells over the government-brokered deal.

"There are people getting upset about something that they don’t know anything about," he said. "We are going to assume that everything is going to be done with consultation and that everybody involved recognizes recreation as an asset.

"There are a lot of people running around worried, and we think unnecessarily worried, and we are not part of that."

Nebbeling is hopeful that the recreational users and the community of Mount Currie will get together and come to a mutual understanding.

"Rather than being alarmed (the recreational users) should talk to the Mount Currie community about what is there because it could be just as much a benefit to have that kind of recreational opportunities going on in that area," he said.

"I hope they will get together."

The deal also gives the Mount Currie band the option to buy another 600 acres at market value, and employment and economic opportunities.

Elections for the Mount Currie council were also held last weekend, with four new councillors elected. They are Bruce Edmonds, Felicite Nelson, Alphonse Wallace and Patricia Williams.

The re-elected councillors are Ruth Dick, Chris Irving, Joanne John, Lois Joseph, Lucy Phillips, Martina Pierre, Shirley Wallace, and Morgan Wells.

Chief Andrew said he is looking forward to working with the council and moving ahead on issues related to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games and the social well being of his community.

"I am looking for the betterment of my community and I think the people have given myself and my new council the mandate to forge ahead," he said.

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