Kokanee Bay Fishing Resort at Puntzi Lake (Bendziny) in the Chilcotin has been purchased by Tsideldel First Nation, located near Alexis Creek.
“It’s a good opportunity for the band, our children and our future,” Chief Otis Guichon told the Tribune.
“Community members will be able to utilize the area. We do a lot of cultural events along the lake and some people fish for Kokanee in the fall.”
There are historical sites near the lake including events pertaining to the Tsilhqot’in war and burial sites of the Nation’s ancestors surrounding Bendziny are still evident, noted a statement issued by chief and council about the purchase.
“For this reason, we chose to purchase an established resort to maintain a connection for our people.”
Coun. Percy Guichon said chief and council worked with its Tsideldel Development Corporation to make the purchase happen and possession will take place on June 1.
“It’s about 15 acres roughly with half of it being zoned commercial and half of it residential,” Percy said. “The present resort owners have a couple of cabins that are open year round.”
Current owners Alan and Tammie Theriault owned the resort for seven years.
“They welcomed us into the community so well when the fires of 2015 were going on,” Tammie told the Tribune.
“They let us stay at Tsideldel, so before we put it up for sale we approached them first. We wanted them to have first shot at it.”
Tammie said she and Alan are happy Tsideldel will have the opportunity to have a new adventure.
“We are going to be grandparents for the first time and are moving back up north,” she said. “So this is good for everyone around.”
Kokanee Bay Resort is about a 15-minute drive from the main community of Tsideldel.
Percy said he grew up camping, fishing and hunting near the lake and has camped there every summer for the last four or five years.
Two other resorts — Woodlands Fishin Resort and Barney’s Lakeside Resort — operate on the lake.
Describing the area as a safe place to go for families to camp and gather, Percy said chief and council envision summer camps for youth and wellness programs being offered at the site.
“We are excited,” he added. “It’s a big step in terms of acquiring property on the lake.”
Tsideldel has been in the forestry business through a partnership with Tolko Industries and has created lots of jobs and provided an economy with operations all over the Chilcotin, he added.
“Our loggers stay all over the place and now we finally have our own little resort for them. Our development corporation has gained business experience and that has enabled us to buy the resort all on our own.”
It’s about looking toward self-reliance, Percy said.
This season the resort will only be open to the band members, the band’s clientele and neighbouring First Nation communities, he confirmed.