Lheidli T’enneh and McLeod Lake Indian Band have formed a partnership that will see the development of a Shas Ti-Dlezeh Industrial Park in the north Fraser area near Summit Lake.
While the proposed industrial park is in very early stages, Lheidli T’enneh and McLeod Lake say the development of the Shas Ti-Dlezeh Industrial Park will enable both nations to better support economic growth and diversification of industrial sectors within the region.
“This Industrial park reignites the trade and relationship we’ve had with McLeod Lake Indian band for thousands of years. This is a great thing moving forward for the future,” says Lheidli T’enneh Chief (Dayi) Clayton Pountney this morning (June 22) when the two Nations announced their partnership.
“It’s bringing maximum benefit for both of our nations also it does it on our terms,” he adds.
“This would be an economic partnership for us and McLeod Lake, so if there are any proponents coming through we can partner up and maximize the benefits and make sure the environmental piece is always in place.”
The site is in question is about 1,000 acres in the north Fraser area about four kilometres away from Summit Lake.
“I’d like to say we have been doing business for thousands of years with Lheidli T’enneh,” says McLeod Lake Indian Band Chief Harley Chingee.
“We are going to explore some exciting opportunities going forward today and Lheidli and McLeod Lake Indian Band will benefit substantially.”
Pountney noted that as Prince George is essentially a big bowl, the project would not only create an additional industrial area, but one that's away from the bowl which would help protect the airshed.
He also said he doesn't foresee the project disturbing residents in Summit Lake as the industrial park would be located "on the other side of the highway and off the beaten path".
In recent years, there has been a number of industrial projects proposed for the Prince George area.
“We had different people in the area and different proponents coming through and we heard the same thing time and time again, they need big pieces of land and they want to build big projects,” says Dayi Pountney.
“They have these great ideas but they need a place to put them so us and McLeod Lake have found a place to put them.”
A recently proposed project, which has generated a lot of buzz, is West Coast Olefins' $5.6-billion petrochemical plant, which was first planned to be developed in the BCR site but because of community backlash, proponents decided to move the project north of the city into McLeod Lake Indian Band territory.
Chingee says McLeod Lake is still working through an agreement with West Coast Olefins.
However, Chingee says the two Nations are in talks with a few different proponents for this new industrial park site.
The site itself is currently Crown land, and Lheidli T’enneh and McLeod Lake are working on purchasing the land before they can see how much proponent interest there is going forward.
“If you have certainty with an area people are going to look at it as a serious venture and proponents that are coming to talk to us know that we are serious,” says Chingee. “It has to benefit the Nations as well as the environment.”
The name for the project, Shas Ti-Dlezeh Industrial Park, is the word for 'grizzly' in both Lheidli and McLeod dialects.
“It’s just highlighting the stories that have always been there,” says Dayi Pountney.
“History has that area as a grizzly area so it made sense to name it that.”
Now that the new partnership between Lheidli T’enneh and McLeod Lake is finalized they will begin working with local governments and the province on the next steps for this project.