The Xeni Gwet’in First Nation is busy making improvements to the Elkin Creek Ranch in the hopes of attracting visitors when travel resumes.
Upgrades to expand guest capacity and improve energy efficiency at the property started this past winter.
“The former owners marketed it as a five-star, and people would show up, and it was more of a two-star,” Chief Jimmy Lulua said, noting they are excited to bring it up to standards.
The ranch located in Nemiah Valley southwest of Williams Lake was acquired by Xeni Gwet’in in 2019.
Lulua said they have invited the previous manager back to make sure it gets off the ground when construction is complete and cross-train Xeni Gwet’in members interested in taking on such a role.
Improvements will also be undertaken at the nearby airstrip, which can accommodate the landing of a small aircraft.
Lulua believes most travellers from the Lower Mainland do not want to make the more than six-hour drive to Williams Lake, followed by another three hours on a rough road to get to the ranch.
“They’d rather just fly from Vancouver right to the spot,” he said.
“We want to move to a higher-end clientele, and we’ll have better access management into the community.”
Xeni Gwet’in successfully received a $974,000 grant for the improvements through B.C.’s Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program destination development stream (CERIP) this year.
Lulua hopes upgrades to the ranch will be finished by June while improvements to the airport get underway sometime over the summer.
Xeni Gwet’in also acquired the Yohetta Wilderness Adventure Lodge in 2019.
“We’re looking at doing the same thing there,” Lulua said of utilizing green energy alternatives such as solar panels and wind in a remote setting.
“But right now, it’s pretty well maintained.”