New rural development grants will help organizations in the Agassiz-Harrison area upgrade a meeting and retreat center and create more tourism and job opportunities.
“The Fraser Valley is home to a wonderful Indigenous tourism industry, and that’s why we’re supporting the great work of local Indigenous communities as this sector continues to grow and develop,” said Kelli Paddon, MP for Chilliwack-Kent. . “I’m happy to see this boost from the province, and I look forward to seeing the results, as these improvements will build on all the splendor the area has to offer.”
The BC government is supporting tourism and infrastructure in the region with $1.5 million in rural development grants supported by the StrongerBC Economic Plan.
“By investing in community tourism, we are not only creating jobs, but also helping to rebuild an industry that has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Employment, Economic Recovery and Innovation. “By providing rural development grants to organizations and through partnerships with Indigenous communities, we strive to achieve the missions set out in the StrongerBC Economic Plan.
As part of these grants, the Sts’ailes Lhawathet Lalem Meeting and Retreat Center Improvement Project is receiving $500,000 to help position the center as a diverse asset in the community. The modernized facility will serve as a hub for cultural tourism, offering catering services and other economic ventures.
“It’s nice to see our building, Lhawathet Lalem (Healing House), get the attention it needs to make it an effective and sustainable facility that our community can use to its full potential,” said Kandice Charlie, General Manager, Sts’ailes Development Corporation. “The land where the center is located is a culturally historic landmark for our people; therefore, we appreciate all efforts around the table to make this possible.
The BC government also provided $350,000 to Skawahlook First Nation to help expand Syéxw Chó:leqw Adventure Park. This will include new features, such as treehouses, a picnic shelter, a carving shed and facilities for hosting events and festivals, as well as market stalls, new discovery trails of the nature and a pedestrian bridge, which will allow the park to generate more economic opportunities and jobs for the community.
“Sq’ewá:lxw (Skawahlook) First Nation is very grateful to have received funding through the Rural Development Grants,” said Sharron Young, Chief Executive Officer of Skawahlook First Nation. “Our plans are now underway to install all necessary infrastructure for a permanent public bathroom and prepare additional amenities to be added to the park.”
Another tourist destination in the region will also get a makeover. Over $650,000 has been donated to the Kilby Heritage Society for a Pathway to Sustainability project that will improve and expand the Kilby Historic Site and Campground. The funding will link the two properties with an interpretive trail, which will lead to the development of new programs and improve the visitor experience, further supporting the local economy.
“The pathway to sustainability provided by Rural Development Grants funding is a wonderful opportunity for Kilby Historic Site and Kilby Campground to move forward with our plans to achieve sustainability,” said Jo-Anne Leon, Chief Executive of the Kilby Heritage Society. “This project involves creating a trail connecting the campground to the heritage site that is accessible to people of all ages. Walkers, nature lovers and recreational cyclists will appreciate the combination of nature and history. On behalf of the Kilby Heritage Society, thank you for this opportunity.
Building resilient communities is a key action in the StrongerBC Economic Plan, which is helping move British Columbia forward by tackling today’s challenges while building an economy that works for everyone.
Roly Russell, Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Development –
“Local governments, organizations and First Nations across the province continue to strive to make rural BC more resilient and welcoming. I am pleased that we are able to support the Sts’ailes, the Skawahlooks and the Kilby Heritage Society in their efforts to create gathering spaces to attract more visitors and employ more local people. Tourism operators are still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, and these grants will help the Agassiz-Harrison region rebuild with vibrancy and resilience.
Melanie Mark, Hli Haykwhl Ẃii X̱sgaak, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport –
“Our tourism industry is key to British Columbia’s economic success. Supporting the people and communities that make up this dynamic sector is vitally important to our government. These grants will not only enhance much-needed community assets, but will also boost local and aboriginal tourism.
Learn more about the StrongerBC Economic Plan: https://strongerbc.gov.bc.ca/plan