Jill Hayward – Barriere Star/Journal
Communities working together for the good of all was on the agenda Jan. 27 at the Barriere Ridge.
Council representatives of Simpcw First Nation, District of Clearwater, District of Barriere, and Electoral Areas ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘I’, ‘O’ and ‘P’ of the Thompson Nicola Regional District all came together at the Barriere Ridge for their annual Community-To-Community Forum,, with the event hosted by the District of Barriere. There were 29 attendees at the event.
Simpcw First Nation Fish and Wildlife co-ordinator and councillor Tina Donald gave the opening prayer. She then touched on the following subjects giving a report on what her community has been working on during the past 12 months.
Donald said, “We all want to be a part of looking after the environment which is very important to everyone.
“Simpcw First Nation has a signed agreement with Kinder Morgan, and the band now has a crew specifically trained as part of the new Ministry of Environment spill response regime. We will be able to attend to any issues that may arise with the pipeline.
“We could have been involved with the Vavenby spill,” said Donald, “But we were not informed about it at the time.”
She told that the band is building a new fire hall and a new resource/emergency centre office.
On Jan. 26, Simpcw First Nation participated in a community information session regarding the agreement and relationship the band has with Valemount Glacier Destination Resort, which is in the band’s traditional territory.
“We are also currently working with the 911 district to clear up some location problems, and in the spring the community will have new house numbers,” said Donald. “We are planning to do some big activities for Day of Recognition to make sure that Simpcw is recognized at all of those events.”
She also noted that those who are developing areas in Kamloops, Barriere and Clearwater must make sure they talk with Simpcw First Nation because, “They are required to have an archaeology representative on-site before they start any kind of development.”
Simpcw First Nation councillor Tom Eustache said the band is working with Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure towards getting Dunn Lake Road paved within the community.
“It started out as a wagon trail about 100 years ago,”said Eustache, “And we are hoping in the next three to four years we’ll get something done. When we talk about liveability, that road is not attractive and it is rough.”
He noted that Simpcw First Nation has approximately 720 band members, with approximately 220 living on the reserve.
“We are working with Valemount and Blue River on mountain bike trails,” said Eustache and working on joining up a trail from Simpcw to Barriere. People who mountain bike come from all over the world.
Eustache said the band has worked on mountain bike trails in Blue River, and will be working on more in McBride this spring.
“I also sit on the Wells Gray Tourism board,” said Eustache, “It’s good to work on other plans for the valley, and we are going to do a tourism study for Dunn Lake.”
Eustache also sits on Simpcw’s health board, has an exercise program and a running group.
“There’s been a change in our community, we’re changing our lifestyle to get healthier,” said Eustache, noting the band has put together a Tough Mudder Team of 10 to 12 people for 2017.