Next chapter for visitor stop

The provincial government is working with Nicola Valley First Nations to redevelop the old Merritt visitor centre property at the corner of highways 97C and 5.

Premier John Horgan was in Coldwater Wednesday to sign a protocol agreement with the five Nicola Chiefs to move forward with the initiative dubbed “Gateway 286.”

"Working with the Province and our neighbouring Nations gives us unity and strength to work towards improving prosperity for our region," said Chief Aaron Sumexheltza, Lower Nicola Indian Band. "This is another step towards implementing positive economic change for all of our members and Nicola Valley residents."

The Nations' application to acquire the 25-acres of Crown land that currently houses the shuttered visitor centre is moving through the system, which includes an assessment and technical review, as well as consultation with neighbouring First Nations and stakeholder engagement.

The provincial government says should the transfer of the Gateway 286 lands proceed, it is committed to supporting the development of the project, which would turn the site into a cultural learning and visitor centre.

"The government-to-government agreement with the Nicola Chiefs is a result of their hard work and commitment to foster economic growth and opportunities for their communities, and the entire region," said Premier Horgan. "Our government will continue to work in partnership with First Nations to create prosperity in every part of the province, and make life better for everyone in B.C. - now and into the future."

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