First Nation purchases North Island resort in push to expand local tourism

First Nation purchases North Island resort in push to expand local tourism
Photo: Ka:'yu:'k't'h'/Che:k'tles7et'h' First Nations
Walters Cove Resort on northern Vancouver Island is photographed during its grand reopening.

A Vancouver Island First Nation is checking into the hospitality industry as it celebrates a multi-million dollar resort purchase it says will not only expand tourism operations, but provide employment opportunities.

The Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Che:k’tles7et’h’ First Nations (KCFN) says it’s now the proud owner of a year-round luxury floating barge on northern Vancouver Island, purchasing the 23-room facility located in Kyuquot Sound after leasing it for about three years.

The Nation took over operations of the resort, known as Walters Cove, in 2020 and on Monday announced it had finally bought the facility from the Vancouver Island Forest and Marine Group with help from the Island Coastal Economic Trust (ICET).

Cynthia Blackstone, KCFN’s chief administrative officer, says the purchase will allow for more community and economic benefits, especially in the sports-fishing sector.

“This acquisition also allows us the possibility to explore new eco and cultural tourism projects in the area,” said Blackstone in a news release. “Knowing we have adequate and permanent housing to support the staff and rising visitor market opens several new business opportunities for us.”

The barge is moored to Amos Island, which is accessed via boat from the Nation’s village of Houpsitas. It features about two dozen rooms for overnight accommodation, as well as dining, games and exercise rooms, laundry facilities, patio areas and a hot tub, plus a commercial kitchen and a water and waste filtration system.

“The new Walters Cove Resort will also offer more employment opportunities, as the Nation can deliver training, education, and development programs, as well as provide a cultural arena for hosting private and community events,” KCFN said in its release.

The ICET’s capital and innovation program is contributing $300,000 to a total project investment of $2,087,000, according to the Nation. The trust, established in 2006, looks to support economic diversification and growth across the Island, as well as other areas of B.C., states a post on its website.

Aaron Stone, the ICET’s board chair, says it’s “a major strategic investment in developing their tourism sector on the North Island,” while Gary Wilson, CEO of the KCFN’s group of businesses, calls the short and long-term impacts of the project “so wide-ranging.”

A post on the resort’s website says it’s now accepting bookings for 2023, with more information, including packages and a photo gallery, found online here.

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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