Rural development funding supports tourism in the Fraser Valley

August 18, 2022 at 8:35 am  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

New rural development grants will help organizations in the Agassiz-Harrison area upgrade a meeting and retreat centre, and create more tourism opportunities and jobs.

“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 expand,” said Kelli Paddon, MLA for Chilliwack-Kent. “I am pleased to see this boost from the Province, and I can’t wait to see the results as these improvements will build on all of the splendour the region has to offer.”

The Government of B.C. 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-based tourism, we are not only creating jobs, but also helping rebuild an industry that was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation. “By providing rural development grants to organizations and through partnerships with Indigenous communities, we are working toward reaching the missions laid out in the StrongerBC Economic Plan.”

As part of these grants, the Sts’ailes Lhawathet Lalem meeting and retreat centre upgrade project is receiving $500,000 to help position the centre as a diverse asset in the community. The upgraded facility will act as a hub for cultural tourism, providing catering services and other economic ventures.

“It’s nice to see our building, Lhawathet Lalem (healing house), get the attention required to make it an efficient and sustainable facility for our community to use at its full potential,” said Kandice Charlie, executive officer, Sts’ailes Development Corporation. “The land where the centre is located is a culturally historic landmark for our people; therefore, we appreciate all efforts around the table to make this possible.”

The B.C. government also provided $350,000 to Skawahlook First Nation to help with the expansion of the Syéxw Chó:leqw Adventure Park. This will include new features, such as tree-house accommodation, a picnic shelter, carving shed and amenities for holding events and festivals, as well as market stalls, new nature trails and a pedestrian bridge, all of which will allow the park to generate more economic and employment opportunities for the community.

“The Sq’ewá:lxw (Skawahlook) First Nation is very grateful to have received funding through the rural development grants,” said Sharron Young, managing director, Skawahlook First Nation. “Our projects are now underway to install all necessary infrastructure for a permanent public bathroom and preparing for the additional amenities to be added to the park.”

Another tourism destination in the region will also see a facelift. More than $650,000 has been provided 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 connect the two properties with an interpretive trail, resulting in the development of new programs, and enhance the visitor experience, further supporting the local economy.

“The pathway to sustainability offered through rural development grant funding is a wonderful opportunity for the Kilby Historic Site and the Kilby Campground to move forward with our plans to attain sustainability,” said Jo-Anne Leon, executive director, Kilby Heritage Society. “This project includes creating a connecting pathway from the campground to the heritage site that is accessible to people of all ages. Walkers, nature enthusiasts and recreational cyclists will enjoy combining nature with history. On behalf of the Kilby Heritage Society, thank you for this opportunity.”

Building resilient communities is a key action of the StrongerBC Economic Plan, helping move British Columbia forward by tackling the challenges of today while growing an economy that works for everyone.

Quotes:

Roly Russell, Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Development

“Local governments, organizations and First Nations throughout the province are always working to make rural B.C. more resilient and welcoming. I’m happy that we’re able to support the Sts’ailes, the Skawahlook and the Kilby Heritage Society with their efforts to create gathering spaces to bring in 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 area build back with vibrancy and resilience.”

Melanie Mark, Hli Haykwhl Ẃii X̱sgaak, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport –

“Our tourism industry is key to B.C.’s economic success. Supporting the people and communities who make up this dynamic sector is vitally important to our government. These grants will not only improve much-needed community assets, but they will also ignite local and Indigenous tourism.”

Learn More:

Learn more about the StrongerBC Economic Plan: https://strongerbc.gov.bc.ca/plan

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