News » Whistler

Cultural Centre on time and on budget, says Chief

$1 million boost helps centre stay on track



By Alison Taylor

With another $1 million boost in funding announced last week, Squamish Chief Bill Williams said the Squamish and Lil’wat First Nations Cultural Centre is on time and on budget.

“As far as we can best estimate we are on target and on budget,” he said this week.

The $20 million budget for the project was set last year and Williams said it hasn’t changed despite rising construction costs.

“We expect to be completed at $20 million,” said Williams. “When we identified $20 million we put in the cost of inflation between now and when we expect to have the soft opening.

“It’s still the same budget.”

The soft opening of the centre, which is located opposite the Four Seasons hotel at the corner of Blackcomb Way and Lorimer Road, is targeted for next summer, with an official opening planned for the fall of 2007.

To date there have been several significant financial contributions to the project and now it’s short roughly $2 million of its $20 million target.

The Province of British Columbia has promised $6 million in contributions. The federal government is adding another $4.7 million and Bell Canada is coming in with $3 million. Last week Western Economic Diversification, a federal government program, announced another $1 million. That brings the total project funding to $14.7 million. Squamish and Lil’wat have also announced they will provide $3 million.

When asked why he thought these organizations were coming to the table with funds, Williams said:

“It’s probably something that is necessary in the greater tourism market to be able to go to a location where people outside our culture can go and learn about who we are and where we come from and a lot of groups and organizations see the benefit of that so they’re supporting us.”

The cultural centre will tell the story of the Squamish and Lil’wat First Nations, highlighting their history and culture in the area.