Strategic Tourism Acquisition by Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’ / Che:k’tles7et’h’ Spurs Economic Growth in North Vancouver Island

Walters Cove Resorts Grand Reopening, photo courtesy of KCFN

New Indigenous-owned luxury resort business will drive visitor attraction and ecotourism in Kyuoquot Sound

COURTENAY, 13 February 2023 – The Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Che:k’tles7et’h’ First Nations (KCFN) recently purchased a year-round, floating resort that will help with visitor growth and tourism diversification opportunities, through funding support from Island Coastal Economic Trust’s Capital and Innovation Program.

Located on the outer coast of Kyuquot Sound (on the north-west coast of Vancouver Island), Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Che:k’tles7et’h’ have secured funds from Island Coastal Economic Trust to acquire an off-grid marine lodge from the Vancouver Island Forest and Marine Group. The Nation has been leasing the lodge from the Group since the closure of the award-winning Walters Cove Resort in 2020 due to structural issues with its prior small-scale lodge. The closure of the prior lodge was a tremendous loss of accommodation and business impact for the entire community.

“The purchase of the floating lodge will allow the Nations to generate community and economic benefits from the sports-fishing sector – a significant local economic driver and large-scale seasonal employer within Kyuquot Sound,” says KCFN’s Chief Administrative Officer Cynthia Blackstone. “This acquisition also allows us the possibility to explore new eco and cultural tourism projects in the area. Knowing we have adequate and permanent housing to support the staff and rising visitor market opens several new business opportunities for us.”

The new high-end luxury marine lodge, which will carry the Walters Cove Resort name, will be anchored to Amos Island, a short water commute from the Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Che:k’tles7et’h’ village of Houpsitas. These new accommodations will enable Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Che:k’tles7et’h’ to significantly expand their tourism operations in the summer while also creating rental space for families, gatherings, and meetings for the Nations during the shoulder seasons.

“The short and long-term impacts of this project are so wide ranging,” says Gary Wilson, CEO of Tiičma Enterprises, the KCFN Group of Businesses. “There are multiple economic, social, and cultural implications for how this space will allow the Nation to grow and expand its various portfolios.”

There are significant and immediate infrastructure, capacity, and other cost and time-saving benefits for the community. The barge has its own commercial kitchen, refrigeration, and water and waste filtration system. The number of people that can be hosted overnight is well above previous capacity levels with a total of 23 individual rooms (compared to the previous nine in the former lodge). There is also a dining room, camp lounge, games room, fitness and exercise room, laundry room, patio areas, and hot tub. The new Walters Cove Resort will also offer more employment opportunities, as the Nations can deliver training, education, and development programs, as well as provide a cultural arena for hosting private and community events.

“This project is an exciting example of the Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Che:k’tles7et’h’ community making a major strategic investment in developing their tourism sector on the North Island,” says Island Coastal Economic Trust’s Board Chair Aaron Stone. “We feel truly honoured to partner with the Nation on this important initiative.”

“Indigenous tourism operators play an important role in the North Island, from bringing in revenue and creating jobs, to encouraging tourists from across the world to come explore and experience all the exciting things that the North Island has to offer,” said Michele Babchuk, MLA for the North-Island. “I am pleased that the BC Government was able to work with Island Coastal Economic Trust to bring this exciting new project to life.”

The Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Che:k’tles7et’h’ First Nations project is supported through the Strategic Tourism Infrastructure funding stream of the Capital and Innovation Program. The Trust will contribute $300,000 to a total project investment by Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Che:k’tles7et’h’ First Nations of $2,087,000.


About Island Coastal Economic Trust
Founded by the Province of British Columbia in 2006, the Island Coastal Economic Trust works to build a sustainable and resilient coastal economy in reciprocal relationships with First Nations, municipalities, and regional districts across Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast, and islands and inlets from the Salish Sea to Cape Caution. Serving over half a million residents, we partner with communities in the development and financing of their economic infrastructure and diversification efforts through our unique structure that is led by, and accountable to, communities.

Since our inception, Island Coastal Economic Trust has approved more than $58 million to economic development initiatives that have attracted over $308 million in new investment to our region. These investments have created over 2,750 permanent jobs, and countless positive impacts, across the coast.

Island Coastal Economic Trust acknowledges that we work for communities across the ancestral and unceded territories of the Kwak̓wala, Nuučaan̓uɫ, Éy7á7juuthem, Ligwilda’xw, Pəntl’áč, She shashishalhem, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, Hul’q’umi’num’, diitiidʔaatx̣, SENĆOŦEN, Lekwungen, and T’Sou-ke speaking peoples.

Media Contacts

Brodie Guy
Island Coastal Economic Trust

Gary Wilson
Tiičma Enterprises