Huu-ay-aht First Nations have purchased a number of properties in Bamfield Inlet. The deal involved 11 parcels, and it represents a significant investment in the community.
Purchasing these properties shows the Nation’s commitment to restoring its presence in the village that borders its Traditional Territory, located on the West Coast of Vancouver Island.
Elected Chief Councillor Robert J. Dennis Sr. indicated that since entering into the Maa-nulth Treaty, Huu-ay-aht has maintained an interest in Bamfield Inlet due to its cultural and economic values.
Tayii Ḥaw̓ił Derek Peters said, as head chief, he is proud that his Nation could make such a large investment.
“By purchasing these properties, it will give my tribe more opportunity to play an economic role in the region,” he said. “Outside of our current forestry operations, it’s a good step into tourism.”
The properties were bought as a package and include residential lots, businesses, land with cultural significance and land with future development potential. They are: Rance Island, a 6.8 acre parcel on the east side of the Bamfield Inlet; three acres on Binnacle Road; The Bay House on Seaboard Road, 6.11 acres along the Bamfield Inlet; 5.85 acres on Pachena Road; 5.36 acres on Grappler Road; 1.04 acres on Frigate Road; the Kingfisher Lodge and Marina on Bamfield Road; the Bamfield Airport, a 40-acre parcel on Binnacle Road; 0.275 acres on Seaboard Road; and Ostrom’s Marine on Seaboard Road, a 1.72-acre property.
Huu-ay-aht has been investigating the opportunity the properties offer the Nation and the community of Bamfield since the spring of 2015. Chief Dennis said the work that the previous government put into this acquisition is greatly appreciated, and he is proud to see it receive support from citizens at their People’s Assembly.
By closing this deal, Huu-ay-aht has made a commitment to their neighbours in Bamfield to continue to build a strong relationship between the small First Nation and the community members.
“We have many citizens who remember growing up in what is now Bamfield Inlet,” Peters explained. “So to gain some of it back is a step in the right direction.”
Over the years, Bamfield residents have watched as businesses closed and the properties that once housed them fell into varying levels of disrepair. By purchasing these properties, Huu-ay-aht First Nations hopes to breathe new life into the area and create a bright future for its citizens and residents of Bamfield. The Nation sees this as a potential springboard for revitalization of these historic properties and the economy in the area.
“This is an integral piece to developing a strong Huu-ay-aht economy on our Traditional Territory,” explained Huu-ay-aht Councillor Trevor Cootes. “The Bamfield Property acquisition will be a cornerstone to the Nations’ Economic Plan, which will guide us into the future.”
Moving forward, the Nation will be working with the community to establish a plan for the future. Huu-ay-aht’s elected chief indicated they will be hosting meetings to keep citizens and residents informed.
“We want to build on the relationship we have with Bamfield residents,” Dennis said. “We will hold meetings with Bamfield residents and Huu-ay-aht citizens to inform them of the acquisition and our future plans.”
Huu-ay-aht takes possession of the properties immediately. The first step will be establishing each properties potential and what role it will play in the future of the Nation. The Huu-ay-aht Development Corporation will play a key role in this process through the Huu-ay-aht Group of Businesses. CEO for HDC is optimistic that this purchase will open doors and create opportunities for the Nation and its neighbours.
The day-to-day operation of the businesses will fall under the responsibility of the Huu-ay-aht Development Corporation.
CEO Gary Wilson said their main focus will be ensuring there is a smooth transition, while adding Huu-ay-aht’s signature to current businesses.
“We are looking forward to getting ready for the upcoming tourist season,” he said. “This will mean jobs and opportunities for Huu-ay-aht. We will focus on training and capacity building to enable us to participate in tourism and hospitality industry in the region.”
He said Huu-ay-aht’s investment will offer benefit for the whole region and will offer the Nation an opportunity to share its culture.
“We look forward to working with the Bamfield to revitalize the economy,” Wilson concluded.