A land dispute in a popular resort area has been hammered out, but there’s a cost involved.
The Splatsin First Nation and the provincial government have an agreement so the parking lot at the north end of Mabel Lake can reopen. The deal provides the band with a 10-year license of occupation over the property and the ability to charge parking fees.
“We’re pretty excited about having the lot open by mid-May,” said Jason Ladyman, a land officer with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.
“This gives residents and visitors some certainty (with access).”
The band erected a fence around the property in November after the Regional District of North Okanagan attempted to have the government designate the site permanent parking for boaters and residents in the area.
As part of the agreement, the Splatsin will have control over the upper parking lot, a trail and playing field, about four-fifths of one acre.
A management agreement limits parking rates to $5 a day for a vehicle and $10 a day for a vehicle and trailer. Long-term parking rates, from May 15 to Sept. 15, will be $400 for a single vehicle or trailer, and $700 for trailer and vehicle.
Any changes to this fee structure will require provincial consent.
“The money will go to pay (lot) employees and signage. There will be carrying costs for operating the site,” said Ladyman.
“I don’t see it as a big money-maker.”
The Splatsin First Nation has insisted it took action last fall to protect the area — Cqltqin or Uppermost Head — because of cultural and spiritual values to the Secwepemc or Shuswap people.
Chief Wayne Christian describes the agreement as an interim measure and says the band still has some outstanding concerns.
“In terms of title of the land, I am not satisfied. Title has never been ceded,” he said of the band’s traditional territory.
Jackie Pearase, RDNO director, believes the Splatsin will try and accommodate the needs of permanent residents who need the lot for parking.
“They are trying to make it workable for everyone,” she said, adding that fees are not onerous.
“People pay for parking all over the province.”
Pearase says the band and the regional district share common goals in wanting to ensure the property remains a community asset and is not developed.
“I don’t dispute the archeological significance of the area for the Splatsin. Maybe they can educate people as to why the area is important.”