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Nakusp and Westbank First Nation groups meet to discuss regional partnerships

New Nakusp sawmill, restoration of old youth centre were some topics of discussion
The Westbank First Nation Logo. Photo: Westbank First Nation Facebook photo

Youth support and economic opportunities were the two main focal points during a two-day meeting in Nakusp between elected officials, residents and Westbank First Nation members.

On July 29, both groups met to discuss how to restore the Nakusp and Area Youth Society Green Door property, which was badly damaged during a fire in 2007.

Mayor Tom Zeleznik, Nakusp and Area Youth Society board members, Westbank Chief Chris Derickson and youth members were all in attendance.

The Westbank First Nation recently opened a $5.5 million youth centre and gave village staff and council pointers on what they could do to rejuvenate the space for youth again.

Creating a housing complex and greenhouse run off of biomass fuel were ideas generated from the discussions.

The groups also discussed getting village staff and youth to tour the new Westbank First Nation’s facility in the near future.

On July 30, the groups met up to discuss their respective community forests and how to grow their economies in the forestry industry.

Groups toured the Nakusp and Area Community Forest (NACFOR) log yard and talked about the possible location of a community sawmill.

“Having a mill in the Nakusp area would be a win-win for everyone,” said Zeleznik.

“We still have logs that we can’t sell locally and ship them away. A mill could help use every piece of produce and help to heat buildings with biomass that are close by.”

Currently, Westbank’s community forest can harvest 55,000 cubic metres of timber annually while NACFOR’s can harvest 22,000.

It’s estimated that seven or eight full-time jobs could be created from a sawmill around Nakusp.

Near the end of the visit, groups toured Box Lake Lumber in Nakusp to see what kind of manufactured goods can be made from wood.

The company provides cedar rail fencing products across British Columbia, North America and Europe.

Nakusp is located on the traditional or asserted territories of the Sinixt, Ktunaxa, Shuswap and Okanagan First Nations.

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