LOUIS CREEK – On Monday, the B.C. government officially transferred land on the site of the former Tolko Industries Ltd. mill to the District of Barriere and the Simpcw First Nation.
This land transfer is fulfilling a commitment to support economic development in the North Thompson. It signals a new beginning, by providing prime highway frontage land with the vision of reviving economic opportunity for these communities, which were heavily impacted in 2003 when the Tolko Industries mill was destroyed by wildfires.
The B.C. government invested $4.6 million on the construction of an intersection at Highway 5 and Agate Bay Road and on road work on Agate Bay Road, as well as contamination remediation and clean-up works at the site.
This remediated land will provide a land base for new industry and new jobs for the region, supporting families and economic growth.
The land covers 116 acres, which have been divided into 13 lots of varying sizes:
* Nine lots will be transferred to the District of Barriere.
* Two lots will be transferred to Simpcw First Nation.
* Two lots will be retained by the Ministry of Transportation and
Infrastructure, which will be used for the ongoing operation of a gravel pit and salt storage to facilitate highway maintenance and construction projects.
“Presenting this land to these North Thompson communities fulfils an important commitment made by the Province of B.C. This industrial land offers an opportunity for new jobs and development in a vibrant hardworking region of our province,” said Minister of Health Terry Lake, MLA Kamloops-North Thompson.
“This asset will provide much needed economic development opportunities in our area thereby enhancing the sustainability of our community.,” stated District of Barriere Mayor Bill Humphreys, “The District of Barriere would like to thank the Province of B.C. for their support and recognize the hard work of staff at the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure that enabled the completion of this transfer of ownership.”
Simpcw First Nation Chief Rita Matthewsaid, “The Simpcw community and council honour our ancestors that kept this land in a good way. We are pleased to have the opportunity based on our right, to create economic benefit for the Simpcw people through this development. We look forward to a continuing relationship with our neighbours to work together to make this valley a great place to live for future generations and care for it as we always have.”
Kevin Krueger, who was the MLA for Kamloops North Thompson when the Tolko Mill was destroyed by the McLure Wildfire in 2003 was also a speaker, thanking all those who came together to raise funds that would eventually get the communiy of Louis Creek rebuilt and help to get people back to work. As the chair of the North Thompson Economic Development Society, Krueger said he appreciated the government and people who came together to help the area recover. “Thank you to all the people for working towards this. It has been a part of your lives for the past 10 years,” said Krueger.
District of Barriere CAO Colleen Hannigan noted the lots have been designated as follows: Lots 1,2,4,5,6,7,9,11 and 12 have been turned over to the District, Lots 3 and 13 to Simpcw First Nation. Lot 8 will remain the provincial gravel pit and Lot 10, the site of the old burner, will stay in provincial ownership at this time. There are two park dedications that are now in District ownership as well; one where the existing Wildfire Monument is and the other along Louis Creek behind Lot 11. Lot 12, which will not be sold by the District is the location of the old reservoir up on the hill close to the Eco Depot as well as the adjacent small fenced cemetery plot. Trail linkages have been created between the park lots, the adjacent road allowances and Lot 12 on the hill.