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West Chilcotin Tourism Association honours long-time director Petrus Rykes

Rykes is the former owner of Eagle’s Nest Resort in Anahim Lake
Petrus Rykes, longtime member of the West Chilcotin Tourism Association, holds up the plaque he recently received from the organization for his service. (Photo submitted)

Petrus Rykes, a director and executive board member of the West Chilcotin Tourism Association (WCTA) since its inception, was recently honoured by the WCTA board of directors.

He was presented a plaque commemorating his many years of accomplishments and long service.

Since the 1980s, Petrus was an owner/operator of Eagle’s Nest Resort in Anahim Lake, from which he is now retired and residing in the Williams Lake Senior’s Village.

Petrus was one of the founders of the WCTA in 2002, and involved in its predecessor organization the West Chilcotin Sportfishing Association from 1990, as tourism operators worked to gain more recognition and promotion of the tourism potential of the Chilcotin region.

He has served as either the president or a vice-president of the WCTA ever since, overseeing an era of development that greatly raised the profile of the region in the tourism industry.

Petrus contributed in many other ways as well, and in the Chilcotin tradition, was often a force to be reckoned with.

He served on the board of COTA (the Council of Tourism Associations), the umbrella organization promoting tourism across British Columbia, for four years in the early 2000s.

He was also instrumental in the success of the Anahim Round Table, which was part of a series of “round tables” established by the B.C. Government in the 1990s to balance competing interests and develop land use plans throughout the province.

Petrus helped to overcome the differences between the many stakeholders, including ranchers, foresters, tourism, First Nations, and other interests, to finally establish the Anahim Land Use Plan which was the first, and one of the very few, land use plans successfully completed through this province-wide process.

He was recognized by the Province of B.C. for his contributions to this success.

Petrus is a great problem solver, and waded in to bring people together and find consensus wherever it was possible.

For example, he helped to establish the “Discovery Coast Circle Tour,” a vital tourism route for the region, and lobbied the government to retain the name and signage when they attempted to re-brand it around 2010.

He was also responsible for working with the Department of Highways to create the many viewpoints along Highway 20.

When heightened security for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Whistler threatened to halt all flights to Bella Coola and Anahim Lake, including for essential medical treatment, he convened a meeting at Eagle’s Nest Resort that brought together representatives from Interior and Coastal Health, Bella Coola Hospital, Transport Canada, the Cariboo Regional District, the Central Coast Regional District and Pacific Coastal Airlines to discuss the matter and forge a compromise solution.

When the Province of British Columbia together with BC Ferries, in an effort to cut costs, cancelled the vital Bella Coola – Port Hardy ferry route in 2012, Petrus brought together a consortium of tourism organizations, businesses, and First Nations to fight for reinstatement of the service.

After a two-year battle the government relented, and the ferry service was restored with a new vessel, a new schedule, and incorporating virtually every recommendation made by the lobby group.

When the Anahim Lake Airport was experiencing winter closures due to a lack of appropriate snow removal equipment, Petrus decided to resurrect the long-dormant Anahim Lake Airport Commission, and then acted as its chair as the commission secured necessary financing, purchased snow removal equipment, expanded and resurfaced the existing runway, and built a brand new terminal building.

There haven’t been any similar problems since.

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This article was submitted by the West Coast Tourism Association.

About the Author: Black Press Media Staff

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