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In-SHUCK-ch get funding for roads, governance

The decision to build the proposed Sasquatch Highway between Mount Currie and Harrison Hot Springs along Lillooet and Harrison lakes is still pending, but the existing patchwork of forest service roads will see $1.72 million in funding to replace bridges.


The roads are used by the In-SHUCK-ch First Nations, and were heavily impacted by the flooding of 2003.

"This is a critical corridor for our communities," said Eppa (Gerard Peters), the chief negotiator for the In-SHUCK-ch Council. "We are glad to see bridges being replaced."

The council represents 900 members of three bands, the Douglas First Nations, the Skatin First Nations and the Samahquam Nation, and the 200 people that live along the roads.

Ten bridges will be replaced on the Lillooet West and Harrison West forest service roads.

Among the bridges being replaced is the Doctors Creek bridge on the Harrison West road, which was condemned and removed for public safety reasons last fall. Two of the three bridges being replaced on the Lillooet West road were washed out in the 2003 floods.

Planning and design work is already underway, and the replacement bridges will be built through the summer and fall.

The funding came from $14.3 million budgeted for bridge replacement on forest service roads, replacing an estimated 96 bridges.

In addition to the bridges, the government is increasing funds for forest service road maintenance. The Harrison West road, which is used for recreation, will benefit from more surface maintenance and brushing to accommodate high clearance vehicles.

On the same day the bridge funding was announced, March 18, the governments of Canada and B.C. announced $100,000 in funding to support the development of a governance model for In-SHUCK-ch communities.

"By strengthening relationships and working with local governments to harmonize traditional aboriginal and modern governance models, the In-SHUCK-ch are building a solid foundation for a final treaty," said Geoff Plant, the Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Treaty Negotiations.

A treaty is expected by the In-SHUCK-ch by 2010.

"We’ll be implementing a treaty before this decade is out," said Eppa. "We’ll own our lands and we’ll be directly responsible for managing them. Our leaders’ first and last accountability will be to their people, and no longer to a minister of the federal Crown. We’d better be ready."

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