YOUR PERSPECTIVE: Rural development here in Chilliwack-Kent

By Kelli Paddon – MLA Chilliwack-Kent


There is so much to see out here in the Fraser Valley, and so much to offer our visitors, especially in rural and Indigenous communities.

British Columbia has a long tradition of welcoming visitors from around the province, country and the globe to experience what we have to offer, and we know that over the last two years, these visitors have been missed in many of our communities. The tourism industry was hit hard in the wake of a truly extraordinary and unpredictable global pandemic, and your B.C. New Democrat government has been working hard to help the sector recover.

This summer, after British Columbians came together and got vaccinated against COVID-19, we are finally able to return to many of our favourite sites and welcome visitors to share the history, beauty, and friendly faces of our communities once again.

Our government recognizes the benefit of supporting local tourism, especially in smaller communities. Investing in tourism infrastructure projects in rural communities helps create jobs, diversify the local economy, create welcoming spaces for tourists and residents to enjoy, and helps our small towns and Indigenous communities to recover from the pandemic and become more resilient to future challenges.

Here in the Agassiz-Harrison area, three projects are getting a boost that will help employ local people while creating tourism opportunities.

Sts’ailes First Nation is receiving $500,0000 to upgrade the Sts’ailes Lhawathet Lalem meeting and retreat centre. This upgraded facility will provide catering services and act as a hub for cultural tourism in the area and create other economic opportunities for the nation. This funding for Lhawathet Lalem (healing house), will help make sure the facility is efficient and sustainable, both for tourism purposes and for community use.

At Skawahlook First Nation, a $350,000 grant will help with the expansion of the Syéxw Chó:leqw Adventure Park. Along with more tourism capacity so the park can hold events and host markets, there will be more nature trails, a new pedestrian bridge, a picnic area with shelter, a carving shed and even tree-house accommodation! These upgrades and additions will create jobs and revenue for the community and are sure to provide an amazing experience for guests.

Thirdly, the Kilby Historic Site and campground will benefit from a rural development grant of $650,000 to help make the visitor experience even better, creating a more sustainable campground and developing new programs for guests to enjoy. The pathways-to-sustainability program will connect the heritage site to the campground through a trail – a great way to blend nature and history, two things that British Columbians care about deeply.

I’m glad to be part of a government that supports rural development, and made building resilient communities a pivotal part of the StrongerBC Economic Plan. I am so looking forward to exploring these projects once they’re completed; while there are countless worthwhile places to visit across the province and the country, I never get tired of exploring what’s to offer in my own backyard.

Original Article: YOUR PERSPECTIVE: Rural development here in Chilliwack-Kent | Fraser Valley Today | Everything Fraser Valley