Langley businessman Ralph Berezan and Sts'ailes Chief Willie Charlie formally signed a 60 year partnership contract to develop a 6

Langley businessman Ralph Berezan and Sts'ailes Chief Willie Charlie formally signed a 60 year partnership contract to develop a 6

Sts’ailes sign on to Hemlock resort expansion

A newly signed partnership to develop a 6,000 hectare expansion of the Hemlock ski resort is a result of three years of negotiations



A newly signed partnership to develop a 6,000 hectare expansion of the Hemlock ski resort is a result of three years of negotiations between the Sts’ailes first nation and Langley entrepreneur Ralph Berezan.

But over the 60 year term of the contract Sts’ailes Chief Willie Charlie said it will bring changes that will transform the way his people live. For this reason Chief Charlie emphasized that “the benefits we were able to negotiate are going to equal or be greater than those impacts.”

The Sts’ailes Healing Centre hall on Morris Valley Road was filled to capacity for the signing ceremony on March 9, and guests included representatives of other first nations, provincial government ministries and neighbours of the Sts’ailes. The ceremony followed Sts’ailes customs and included traditional songs and dances, but there were also good-natured exchanges of jokes and barbs between Charlie and Berezan, demonstrating the respectful fondness for each other that the two men have built over the three years of negotiations.

The proposed development area is massive at 6,000 hectares and will extend the existing Hemlock ski resort to the western shores of Harrison Lake. In addition to the new mountains opened to skiing and a web of ski lifts, there are plans for a marina, hotels, golf courses, riding stables, zip lines and more.

“It’s a development that’s going to take 60 years (to complete),” said Berezan, noting that the application is still awaiting final approvals from senior levels of government.

“The Sts’ailes are not the only government I have to report to. The ministries are watching me like a hawk and have to give me their approvals — that’s what I’ve got my lawyers for,” said Berezan, to laughter from the audience.

In the meantime, Berezan has committed to replacing one of the older lifts at Hemlock with a new quad chair lift by the fall of 2013.

“It’s a start towards this project,” said Berezan, who also presented a $100,000 cash gift to the Sts’ailes Legacy Fund that day, “as a token of our appreciation.”

Chief Charlie stressed “the magnitude, the enormity” of the impacts of “this very significant milestone for the Sts’ailes… it will have impacts forever on our people and once it starts we can’t get it back.”

The benefits are, first and foremost, jobs and opportunities, said Charlie. As a year-round destination, Hemlock is projected to provide 22,000 jobs over the 60 years.

“I go to the school and I tell young people you can be whatever you want to be in our own territory, in this one development,” said Charlie.

“Also the stewardship policy, the heritage policy, the environment policy is incorporated in the contract, to help us maintain the integrity of our territory.

“We are always willing to roll up our sleeves and do our share of the work, to stand up for what we think is right and not expect something for nothing. We’re going to be transparent, very clear and sometimes very loud,” said Charlie.

“I also want to acknowledge Ralph Berezan for setting the tone and example for others that want to do work in our territory.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A heavy police presence was on scene on Dec. 28, 2017 following the shooting death on Bates Road in Abbotsford of Alexander Blanarou, 24, of Surrey. (Abbotsford News file photo)
Three men charged with Abbotsford shooting death of Surrey man

Alexander Blanarou, 24, was killed in a rural area on Dec. 28, 2017

Photo by Dale Klippenstein
Hit-and-run driver knocks pedestrian into ditch in Abbotsford

Woman was walking in area of Harris Road and Riverside Street on Monday

Tabor Home in Abbotsford. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
B.C.’s largest COVID-19 care-home outbreak records 19 deaths, 147 cases

Tabor Home in Abbotsford has been battling outbreak since Nov. 4

Police and ambulance crews were at First Avenue and Murray Street on in 2017 after a cyclist was injured in a crash. Kevin Mills photo.
District of Mission seeks public input on transportation planning

Online survey launched where residents can pinpoint traffic-issue areas in the community

Abbotsford residents gather in the Clearbrook area on Monday to demonstrate against what they say is unfairt treatment by the Indian government to farmers in the Punjab region of that country. (Maan Sidhu photo)
Abbotsford residents gather to protest unfair treatment of India farmers

Locals believe new bills will devastate small farms, demand farmers be allowed to protest peacefully

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest weekend of COVID-19 pandemic with 46 deaths; more than 2,300 cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides COVID-19 update

Mirandy Tracy, left, and Tara Kurtz are two Langley mothers who are organizing a "sick out" for Tuesday, Dec. 1 to protest COVID conditions in schools. They're calling for masks and smaller class sizes, among other things. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Politician, labour leader throw support behind student Sick Out day

Langley parents started the movement to keep kids home on Dec. 1 as a protest

A family emerged with a purchase at the Tannenbaum Tree Farm at 5398 252 St in Aldergrove on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)
Christmas tree season is off to an early start

People are ‘bored’ with staying home due to COVID-19 and want to decorate early, farm owner believes

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

A convoy of seven pickup trucks, six of which were hauling boats, makes its way around the Chilliwack Law Courts on Dec. 1, 2020. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
First court date for Fraser River anglers ticketed during demonstration fishery

Convoy of trucks circled the courthouse in downtown Chilliwack Tuesday honking their support

A sign is seen this past summer outside the Yunesit’in Government office west of Williams Lake reminding visitors and members to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
B.C. First Nation leaders await privacy commissioner decision on COVID-19 information

Release of life-saving data cannot wait, says coalition of First Nations

MLA Jennifer Whiteside is B.C.’s new minister of education. She is speaking out against Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld and asking him to resign. (Black Press)
New education minister calls on Chilliwack trustee to resign

Whiteside echoes former minister’s promise to look at options to remove Barry Neufeld

Most Read