The West Chilcotin Tourism Association (“WCTA”) is a marketing and lobbying organization with member businesses from Bella Coola to Redstone (west of Williams Lake) in central British Columbia. Our mandate is to promote tourism in the Chilcotin region, and to lobby government on issues of importance to our members. The WCTA is working together with the Chilko Operators Association and the Chilcotin Ranchers to ensure that the rights of all Canadian citizens are respected.
Many of our members stand to be profoundly impacted by the result of the negotiations currently taking place between the Federal and Provincial governments and the Tsilqhot’in First Nation. Our member businesses are primarily small, family run operations, many of whom have invested their life savings into the creation and operation of their businesses. Depending on the outcome of these negotiations, their entire investment could be at great risk. These family run operations cannot afford to be put in this position.
For over 30 years members of the WCTA executive have participated in land use planning projects in conjunction with local First Nations. The Anahim Round Table (ART) was a great success story to emerge from the Glen Clark NDP government’s land use project initiated under the province’s Commission on Resources and the Environment (CORE) process, focused on solution-oriented land use planning with all local stakeholders fully involved in the planning process. It was seen at the time as a potential solution to the “War of the Woods” that was raging across British Columbia in the late 80s and early 90s. The ART is a stakeholder group comprising First Nations, Tourism, Forestry, Mining, Trappers, Ranching, and Environmental interests. It ultimately resulted in the first land use plan in British Columbia that had First Nations as signatories, in January of 1994. The ART Land Use Plan then became the initial blueprint for the broader Cariboo Chilcotin Land Use Plan, both of which are still in effect today. This was such a success and such a landmark achievement that it was later studied at Simon Fraser University as part of its curriculum.
WCTA President Petrus Rykes is also currently Chair of the ART, working with Ulkatcho First Nations Chief Lynda Price (mother NHL goaltender Carey Price) on land use issues and Caribou rescue strategy. The ART is well known for working out stakeholder issues jointly so that the region can speak with a united voice to government.
This planning process proved that when all stakeholders work together for the common good, excellent results are possible. However, that is NOT what is happening now. The Horgan and Trudeau governments seem determined to shut out all regional stakeholders except the Tsilqhot’in First Nation. It is a poor strategy, and is not sustainable. The result could be widespread bitterness that endures for decades, if not generations.
This regrettable outcome can be avoided. If all regional stakeholders are invited to the negotiating table to participate in determining the future of the region, a much better result respecting all stakeholders can be achieved.
We therefore insist that ALL regional stakeholders are represented in this process.