Access to Loon Lake, just outside of Port Alberni, will be closed as construction of a new campground begins.
Mosaic Forest Management announced back in November a partnership with Hupacasath First Nation to build a campground at Loon Lake. The campground is expected to open in spring 2022 with 27 campsites.
Jolleen Dick, an elected councillor for Hupacasath First Nation, said the nation has been building and maintaining a relationship with Mosaic “for a number of years.” This relationship was recently solidified by a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that crystalizes the mutual commitment to work jointly on business, cultural and sustainability initiatives within Hupacasath territory.
Although Mosaic will be managing the new campsite, Dick says that Hupacasath will still be involved.
“We will be developing and designing a kiosk at the site to share information about Hupacasath and the area,” said Dick.
Jeff Zweig, President and CEO of Mosaic, said the campsite is part of Mosaic’s commitment to providing recreational access to Mosaic private forest lands.
“The addition of this stunning campsite in the Loon Lake area gives visitors to the Alberni Valley a chance to explore wild places, learn about the culture of Indigenous nations and connect safely with family and friends,” said Zweig.
Mosaic already operates 13 other campsites on the Island, including the Macktush Campsite located west of Port Alberni on the Alberni Inlet.
“Like our other 13 campgrounds located on our privately managed forest lands, Mosaic intends to provide safe, sanctioned opportunities for the public to recreate on our lands,” said Molly Hudson, Director of Sustainability for Mosaic. The campsite will be managed under a not-for-profit, cost-recovery model and will exist for community benefit, she added.
Construction began the week of Nov. 15. Mosaic says construction is expected to be underway for approximately six weeks, dependent on weather.
“At Mosaic, safety is our utmost highest priority,” said Hudson. “We ask the public to avoid using this area and respect all signage to keep our workers and the public safe during construction.”
During construction, the entrance to the trail that circles the lake will be closed for public safety. However, Mosaic says access to the trail system will re-open once construction is complete. Trail improvements are also planned in the area around the campground.
The campground will be called “?a?uk?aama k’anis” (ah-uk aah-ma ka-niss), which translates to ‘lake loon camp and rest area’ according to Hupacasath elected Chief Councillor Brandy Lauder.
“We value Mosaic recognizing Hupacasath ha’houlthee (traditional territories) and the importance of our culture,” said Lauder in a press release. “We look forward to continue working together to explore more opportunities to benefit our people.”
However, not everyone is happy to hear about the new campsite. Tseshaht First Nation released a statement shortly after the news was announced, stating that the nation was never consulted about the project.
“Tseshaht First Nation ha’wiih (hereditary chiefs) and Elected Chief and Council would like to clarify and correct this misinformation as the area of this proposed project at Loon Lake is within the hahoulthee (territory) of Tseshaht First Nation and our ha’wiih,” said Tseshaht First Nation in a statement.
In response to this statement, a spokesperson for Mosaic Forest Management said that Mosaic and Tseshaht have “a long history of commercial and cultural cooperation. Everyone expects that to continue and expand.”