Katzie First Nation will once again be taking on management of the Grant Narrows lands at Pitt Lake.
The province is finalizing a long-term lease agreement with the First Nation’s economic development firm, Katzie Development Limited Partnership (KDLP), in order for Katzie to actively manage what the Ministry of Forests calls the “vacant crown lands at Grant Narrows” that the public uses for recreational purposes.
Spokesperson for the Ministry Nigel McInnis confirmed that work was completed in the area at the end of last year, to make it safe for public use, including the removal of two docks that were in disrepair.
Plans are now underway between the province and Katzie First Nation to “garner funds to finalize designs and begin construction of site improvements,” he said.
Katzie First Nation first took over the site operations in 2011, but left in May, 2020, citing liability issues with the docks in the park they then described as unstable and in a state of disrepair. Since then, the province has been searching for new operators. In July 2021, the province put up signs advising boaters the docks were closed due to safety concerns, and to remove all moored boats.
Chief Grace George explained before the KDLP agreed to return to manage the site, a number of conditions had to be met including:
• All unsafe provincially-owned infrastructure to be removed by the province to ensure there is no legal risk to the Katzie First Nation or the KDLP, by signing a lease to resume commercial activities at Grant Narrows.
• A long-term lease to be jointly developed for the upland and water lot portions of the property to ensure that the First Nation will be able to manage the site for the long-term and fully develop the property to meet the needs of Katzie’s members and local residents.
• For the province to support Katzie in acquiring the funds needed to replace existing unsafe infrastructure and prepare the site for renewed commercial activity.
George acknowledged the province has removed all unsafe infrastructure from the site and has made repairs to the boat launch that will ensure it can be safely used until it is fully replaced at a later date. The long-term lease for the property will be finalized in the coming months.
In addition, the province has provided Katzie with funding to help cover the initial lease costs, forclean-up of the site, and for purchase and installation of basic amenities and infrastructure like an office building for staff, portable toilets, storage, and security cameras.
Work will begin once the lease is finalized, she said.
Despite this, Katzie has yet to secure funding to fully replace the existing dock infrastructure, added George. Specifically the pick-up and drop off dock and boat launch.
“While the Nation has been working with federal and provincial partners to secure the necessary funds since 2020, neither level of government has committed to providing the needed amount,” said George.
“We are hopeful that recent funding applications made to the federal government, and discussions with the Provincial Ministry of Land, Water and Resource Stewardship regarding available funds, will bear fruit in the coming months,” she added.
While there is no set timeline as to when infrastructure in the area will be fully replaced, Katzie are hopeful that the site will be brought to a basic standard of operation by the summer. Hopes are that the canoe rental business will be up and running by the Victoria Day long weekend. There will be public washrooms on site and a refreshment stand, if there is sufficient demand from the public.
Katzie will also be working towards regular lawn maintenance garbage collection in the area and providing on-site security.
“The park will remain open while updates to, and replacement of, infrastructure are completed, keeping in mind the safety of the public as this is being done,” said George.
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