Mount Currie band given federal and provincial money to begin negotiations
The Mount Currie band has been given $180,000 by the provincial government to begin negotiations with a developer of a small power project on Ure Creek.
The creek, which flows into Lillooet Lake, is the proposed site for a run-of-river hydroelectric project, much like those developed on Rutherford and Miller Creeks in the Pemberton area in recent years.
Although there is some excitement in the Mount Currie community about the economic potentials of the project, business development officer of the band Lyle Leo says there are still many cultural concerns at this initial stage.
"There are some sensitivities to fish habitat," he said.
"Theres other wildlife hunting issues, traditional uses around those, plus botanical, plus historic graveyard sites in the area.
"We want to find out this information so we can avoid impacting them and other cultural values that may not have been inventoried yet. So we want to start looking at those issues before we negotiate for the participation of the project."
The band may also be impacted by the new power lines needed to take power from the project on the south side of the Lillooet Lake to the north side of the lake where the B.C. Hydro transmission lines are located.
One option currently being discussed is to run the poles through Indian Reserve Three. Another option would be to construct a submarine line under the lake. Either way Leo said the cultural ramifications of both options must be studied.
"We would need to do further studies to determine the potential impact and cultural resources in those areas," he said.
Thats where the government money comes into play.
The $180,000 will go in part to conducting studies about the cultural impacts of the Ure Creek project. The money will also go into negotiating potential long term benefits in the form of an income stream, as well as employee and training opportunities for band members.
"Were very pleased to see that (the provincial and federal governments) are committing to support the First Nations in participation with the economy and society at large," said Leo.
He added that the money gives the band a fair advantage to participate with the developer.
A Vancouver-based company called Cloudworks Energy has submitted the proposal to develop power on the Ure Creek.
Executive Vice President Nick Andrews says the government money allows the project to be done in a way that truly reflects the concerns of the Mount Currie community.