Scallops, boat ramp, logging driving renewed Malahat Nation

Malahat Chief Michael Harry signs a memorandum of understanding with TimberWest last week, as TimberWest CEO Brian Frank. - Peter W. Rusland
Malahat Chief Michael Harry signs a memorandum of understanding with TimberWest last week, as TimberWest CEO Brian Frank.
— image credit: Peter W. Rusland

An aquaculture centre, boat-ramp boardwalk, and timber harvesting are the anchors of economic growth for a rejuvenated Malahat Nation.

Malahat elders under chief Michael Harry outlined some of their band's plans during Wednesday's opening of Malahat's cultural resource centre.

The Chinese-owned aquaculture project, by the firm Dalin, involves scallop raising in pristine seas and could see more than $22 million invested in south Cowichan's emerging economy.

It could also spell 40 jobs in peak season, and 20 in the off- season, Harry and company explained.

Dalin is hauling equipment to its one-acre site on seaside Malahat land, while awaiting federal and provincial permits, band administrator Lawrence Lewis said of the project to cover 50 sea hectares.

Dalin's first three to five years of production, mostly for overseas markets, will test the plant's capabilities while ensuring a clean environment, he explained

"It's a canary in the the coal mine," Lawrence said of keeping Malahat-area seas clean.

Then there's Malahat's planned development of a $500,000 boat ramp, boardwalk and parking lot on a 10-acre site off Mill Bay Road.

Designs are ramped toward fall construction and a spring launch, Lewis explained.

Capping the night was a formal memorandum of understanding autographed by Chief Harry and TimberWest CEP Brian Frank.

That MOU heralded a good-neighbours agreement, as about half of the band's territory involves timber harvesting by the forest giant.

Frank stressed his firm's responsibility to the environment, and the value nature brings to the resource.

"Forestry can be done in a good way or a bad way," he said, noting Malahat land has been actively logged for a century.

"We will work with the Malahat Nation and identify opportunities for investment, and employment and development."

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