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

Interior Health reported 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5. (Black Press Files)
Interior Health reports 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5

Over 300,000 vaccine doses have been administered provincewide.

The wind has been gusting Friday, March 5 in Williams Lake with the risk of a thunderstorm in the forecast for later in the afternoon. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
More than 500 customers in Cariboo without power, risk of thunderstorm Friday afternoon

The BC Hydro map is adding more power outages as the afternoon unfolds

Many members of the Williams Lake Cross Country Ski Club (pictured) have teamed up with the Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society to host a free ski in celebration of World Water Day. (Patrick Davies photo - Black Press Media)
Conservation society, cross country ski club, celebrate World Water Day with free ski March 6

The free ski will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 6 at Bull Mountain

International Women’s Day is March 8. (Internationalwomensday.com)
International Women’s Day 2021: #choosetochallenge

International Women’s Day is marked annually on March 8

The OT Timber Frames Ltd. crew of Wacey MacDonald (from left), Sean Empey, Josh Douglas, Kurt Leuenberger, Ruedi Baumann, Simon Gansner, Annie Murray (in front) and Josie the dog stand in front of a newly constructed timber frame outdoor classroom for the 150 Mile House Elementary School. (Photo submitted)
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C. on the COVID-19 situation. (B.C. government)
Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

‘Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people, sooner’

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

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

A crashed helicopter is seen near Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island on Friday March 5, 2021. Two people were taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after the crash. (Irene Paulus/contributed)
2 people in serious condition after helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

Chief Don Tom of the Tsartlip First Nation was outraged after Green MLA Adam Olsen revealed on social media that the community had been experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak – a fact the First Nation had chosen to keep private to avoid racist backlash as experienced by the Cowichan Tribes when an outbreak was declared there in January. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation ‘outraged’ after Green MLA reveals COVID-19 outbreak

Tsartlip First Nation chief shares concerns about racist backlash, MLA apologizes

A lawyer wears a face mask and gloves to curb the spread of COVID-19 while waiting to enter B.C. Supreme Court, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. British Columbia’s highest court has sided with the land owner in a dispute over public access to public land. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. high court finds in favour of large landowner in fight over access to pair of lakes

The Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club launched legal action after the cattle company blocked road and trail access

Most Read