Hausi Wittwer, owner of Chilko River Lodge, (not pictured) says he wants to be bought out fairly. His 10-acre commercial property is within the Tsilhqot’in Declared Title area in the West Chilcotin. (Photo submitted)

Hausi Wittwer, owner of Chilko River Lodge, (not pictured) says he wants to be bought out fairly. His 10-acre commercial property is within the Tsilhqot’in Declared Title area in the West Chilcotin. (Photo submitted)

Lodge owner in Tsilhqot’in declared title area wants to be bought out for fair price

Hausi Wittwer has operated the Chilko River Lodge for 21 years

A lodge owner operating within the Tsilhqot’in declared title area wants to be compensated so he can leave.

Hausi Wittwer has owned and operated the Chilko River Lodge for 21 years and said because of the uncertainty and his frustration he does not want to live there anymore.

“I want to be bought out with a fair price,” Wittwer said.

His business has decreased in the last three years.

Customers coming to his lodge are not high-end and if it wasn’t for repeat customers from B.C. and Switzerland he would not have survived.

“I used to get people just driving in off Highway 20, but not anymore,” he noted, adding he has not received his operating permit for the upcoming season yet, which is also a challenge.

Witter has written letters to provincial government ministers and the premier and has not heard back.

“I think it is not fair that if I write a letter to the premier and to this day there is no answer. At least give me an answer — that’s what I can expect from my leaders.”

Read more: Chilko Lake operators appeal to governments for help

In 2014, the Supreme Court of Canada granted the Tsilhqot’in Nation declaration of Aboriginal title to 1,700 square kilometres of land.

Since then, the Xeni Gwet’in has been working with the provincial government taking on jurisdiction.

Xeni Gwet’in Chief Jimmy Lulua said his government is issuing permits to operators within the declared area and operators are expected to apply for permits through the Xeni Gwet’in government office.

Lulua said they continue to collaborate with the provincial government on permitting and the provincial government has been reminding operators that there is a new owner.

“I’ve not sure if they’ve noticed, but five years ago we won title. People seem to forget,” Lulua said.

Negotiators for the Xeni Gwet’in have worked on making offers to buy some owners out, Lulua confirmed.

“There are guidelines on how they get bought out and there are things that are being argued here that are understandable from them and from us,” he said. “We are willing to buy any of those properties, but at the end of the day, if they are asking for hardship dollars we don’t pay hardship dollars.”

Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation communications director Sarah Plank said the Tsilhqot’in Decision by the Supreme Court of Canada has raised unique and complex new issues that the province is still working through together with Tsilhqot’in Nation, the federal government and affected tenure-holders.

Similar to private property, Aboriginal title means the Tsilhqot’in Nation owns the lands and resources in the Declared Title Area and has the right to decide how those lands and resources are accessed and used, and to benefit from economic activity on them, Plank told the Tribune.

“We recognize this is a challenging situation for tenure holders impacted by the decision, as these tenures represent their families’ livelihoods,” Plank said. “The province continues to work with the Tsilhqot’in National Government and the Xeni Gwet’in to achieve both short- and long-term certainty for all those affected by the decision.”

It is complex work in “uncharted waters,” and there are not easy answers, she added, noting the province is committed to working through the issues in a thoughtful way.

“We continue to recommend tenure holders engage with Xeni Gwet’in,” she said. “At the same time, we are also providing some funding to support Xeni Gwet’in’s path forward and to create more governance capacity to effectively manage the title lands – this includes issuing permits to guide outfitters operating in the Declared Title Lands.”

Plank said the province remains a neutral party in any purchase negotiations between the tourism operators and the First Nation.

“The complex challenges raised by this ruling illustrate why it is so important for us to focus our reconciliation efforts on collaborative negotiations rather than litigation.”

Lulua said a title-tenure meeting is scheduled for March in Xeni Gwet’in for all operators in the area.

“Some lodge owners have worked well with us while others are challenging us and think they are going to beat us,” he added. “Title lands are on the scoreboard and no one can take it down, not even ourselves, so the sooner they understand that the better for them.”

Read more: TNG enact wildlife law for declared title lands



news@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The exposure occurred on 24th, 25th, & 26th November 2020, and affects Grade 7, 8, 9, 10 (file photo)
COVID-19 case confirmed at Acwsalcta School

The exposure occurred on 24th, 25th, & 26th November 2020, and affects Grade 7, 8, 9, 10.

A convoy of vehicles passes through Heckman Pass on Highway 20 as cleanup operations continued Saturday. Dawson Road Maintenance is asking motorists to watch for crews and equipment working throughout the area. (Dawson Road Maintenance photo/Facebook)
Highway 20 reopens between Anahim Lake and Bella Coola after winter storm Friday

“We appreciate your patience as we continue to clear wood debris and widen sections of the road.”

Bella Coola RCMP are alerting residents that the road between 4 Mile subdivision and downtown will be closed until at least tomorrow. (File image)
Winter storm closes 4 Mile to downtown road in Bella Coola

Police it will remain closed until Saturday, at least

The Bella Coola area also received a large dump of snow as seen here Friday, Nov. 27, but by the afternoon it had started to rain there. (submitted photo)
Update: More than 900 Bella Coola customers without power, expected to last overnight

Highway 20 remains closed between Anahim Lake and Bella Coola Friday, Nov. 27

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest weekend of COVID-19 pandemic with 46 deaths; more than 2,300 cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides COVID-19 update

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

Paramedics register patients at a drive through, pop-up COVID-19 test centre outside the Canadian Tire Centre, home of the NHL’s Ottawa Senators, in Ottawa, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020. A new poll suggests most Canadians aren’t currently worried that people in other countries might get a COVID-19 vaccine first. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Canadians not worried other countries will get COVID-19 vaccine first: poll

Forty-one per cent of respondents say they want the vaccine to be mandatory for all Canadians

Fossil finds at Mt. Stephen. (Photo: Sarah Fuller/Parks Canada)
Extreme hiking, time travel and science converge in the Burgess Shale

Climb high in the alpine and trace your family tree back millions of years – to our ocean ancestors

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Kettle bells sit aligned in an indoor fitness studio. (PIxabay.com)
1 COVID-19 case at a B.C. fitness studio leads to 104 more infections, 6 school exposures

According to case data released by Fraser Health, one case of the novel coronavirus carries a big impact

Vehicles drive past a display thanking essential workers in Burnaby, B.C. on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
B.C. changing COVID-19 case reporting as virus spread continues

Manual counting takes more time, leads to errors

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Christy Jordan-Fenton is the co-author of the book Fatty Legs, which has been mentioned amid the controversy of an Abbotsford school assignment on residential schools.
Co-author of residential schools book condemns controversial Abbotsford class assignment

Children’s book mentioned amid controversy at W. A. Fraser Middle School

Most Read