BC NDP announce plans to revitalize old Merritt visitor centre

Plans to renew visitor centre

Saturday. B.C. NDP leader John Horgan made a promise to revitalize the old Merritt visitor centre that was shut down in January 2018.

Horgan and Aaron Sumexheltza, the B.C. NDP candidate for Fraser-Nicola, announced the plan as part of their second stop on Horgan's interior road trip happening today

“The closure of the centre caused a lot of concern in the Nicola Valley,” says Horgan in a press release. “More than 19,000 vehicles pass by that interchange every day, so it represented a key part of the local tourism industry.

“Aaron, as Chief of the Lower Nicola Indian Band, recognized that there was a tremendous opportunity to create jobs for the members of the five Indigenous nations, while showcasing the rich cultural heritage those nations have."

The five nations (Coldwater, Lower Nicola, Nooaitch, Shackan, and Upper Nicola) will turn the facility into a cultural and business centre, and plan to share their history, culture, and food while showcasing artifacts currently housed in Victoria. 

Indigenous entrepreneurs will also have the chance to lease space in the development to operate a business.

The Government of British Columbia provided funding to assist with the growth of the proposal when the project was first announced in March 2019. More than $50 million will be spent on the first phase of the project and will create roughly 200 job opportunities.

“This is a very important project, not just for the five nations, but for the region as a whole,” says Sumexheltza, in the release. “People felt that the loss of the centre would have meant a tremendous loss for the tourism sector and Merritt as a whole."

More Kamloops News