The Huu-ay-aht First Nations have received more than $510,000 from a B.C. provincial grant to expand its campground at Pachena Bay this year.
The grant is part of the province’s Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program announced in early March. The campground project is one of 38 receiving funding this year. The Rural Economic Recovery stream is designed to help people living in rural communities by supporting new jobs and economic opportunities to help them recover from impacts of COVID-19.
The Huu-ay-aht will use the grant to build a new access road to the campground, add 20–40 campsites and hopefully some new trails within the campground.
Huu-ay-aht Chief Councillor Robert Dennis Sr. said plans for the new access road are “partially COVID-19 related.” Construction will allow them to add campsites, bringing the total to between 110-130 campsites. Some of the sites include walled tents that are placed on wooden bases and available for families to rent.
Expansion will mean employment for six to nine people as well, he added.
Organizers also hope to develop some new trails that will bring campground visitors to areas of cultural impressions in the area, such as a canoe blank that someone started carving but never completed.
Dennis Sr. said Huu-ay-aht First Nations hope they will be able to open the campground for use this summer, even if it’s just for Vancouver Island residents. The campground did not open in 2020 due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“Our citizens told us they did not feel safe opening our community to added risks. This decision came at a significant cost to the nation,” he said. “We are grateful for this grant as it will help us move forward with the plans we have despite suffering a devastating tourism season last year.”
Dennis Sr. said leadership is listening to its citizens and all will have a say over whether the campground opens for 2021.
Machinery will be brought in soon to work on the new access road, and he hopes the project will wrap up by the end of June.
“We’re going to be pretty busy down here,” he noted, with construction at the campground, on the Bamfield Main road and the nations’ wastewater treatment plant.
This is the second grant the Huu-ay-aht First Nations have received for work at Pachena Bay Campground: the first was a federal grant for $270,000.
“These grant funds provide an excellent opportunity to build upon the existing foundation of the Pachena Bay Campground, leading to greater economic success for Huu-ay-aht First Nations,” said Patrick Schmidt, chief executive officer for the Huu-ay-aht Group of Businesses, which will oversee campground expansion.