Sun Peaks Mountain Resort Municipality (SPMRM) has been working to advance discussions surrounding resort revenue sharing with neighbouring First Nations bands, but communication with the province has prolonged the process.
Around two years ago, SPMRM Mayor Al Raine contanced the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation to propose sharing local tax revenues with Adams Lake Indian Band, Little Shuswap Lake Band and Neskonlith Band.
“I feel very strongly that we need to get a formal understanding between ourselves and the three local bands about the future and the development in Sun Peaks,” Raine said. “We need to work on an understanding of how we go forward. It’s not a total solution but … I do feel that part of the answer is revenue sharing.”
The province has worked with other communities to set up revenue sharing, including ski areas such as Whistler. Raine said the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation was on board after an initial meeting a couple years ago and said administration would work to refine the proposal into a product that could be presented.
After five months Raine said he hadn’t heard back, so he reached out to the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation again.
“I found out [most] of the people that were in on the first meeting were no longer working in the ministry,” Raine said. “They [went] over the proposal again, and then I went back about six months later and they said, ‘we don’t think this is in our ministry’s mandate.’”
To move forward, SPMRM had a meeting with all relevant ministries — Municipal Affairs, Forests, Lands and Natural Resources, Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, Finance and Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport.
Raine presented the fundamental ideas of his proposal again and said most people at the meeting seemed supportive. However, the Ministry of Finance had concerns about setting precedents for other communities and how it could impact companies in Sun Peaks doing business in other locations, Raine said.
“I don’t understand how they can be committed to reconciliation and revenue sharing and come up with such lame duck excuses of why it wouldn’t work,” he said. “They just recently raised the revenue sharing on forest land with neighbouring bands, they’ve done it in other ski resorts in this province.”
Raine said he hoped the province would tell him how to adapt the proposal into a concept that could be moved forward, but did not hear back for several months.
However, at the 2022 Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) convention in mid-September, Raine finally spoke again with the minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation who told him the current proposal was unlikely to get support from the finance ministry.
“But he said, ‘The good news is we are working on some ideas and we’re going to bring them forward shortly,’” Raine explained. “So we’re going in the right direction.”
Before the UBCM convention, SPIN reached out to the involved ministries for comment. The Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport responded with a statement on how the province has been working with Pespesellkwe te Secwepemc to “undertake a number of different initiatives related to the Sun Peaks area.”
The spokesperson said they’ve been involved in discussions of revenue sharing, but the Ministry of Finance has jurisdiction over taxation.
The Ministry of Finance did not provide comment — A spokesperson said she saw SPIN had already received a response from the tourism ministry.
Little Shuswap Lake Band has also been leading conversation with the province, but did not respond to SPIN for comment.
Moving forward, Raine said he hopes setting up revenue sharing can be a way to foster more discussions with the surrounding bands.
“Once you start talking about revenue sharing, then you can talk more about [future] land use and how First Nations input comes into place with Sun Peaks,” Raine said. “But it doesn’t make sense unless there’s some benefit and some mutual understanding taking place.”