A new campground, offering 27 sites, is expected to open just outside of Port Alberni this coming May.
Work on the venture has begun after the Hupacasath First Nation and Mosaic Forest Management recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding to build the campground.
The new facility, which will overlook Mount Arrowsmith, will be on Loon Lake, a stocked fishing lake located about 10 minutes east of Port Alberni.
“It’s something to celebrate,” Hupacasath First Nation Councillor Jolleen Dick said of the MoU. “We’re really proud of it. It gives us possession back of our land. It’s something we’ve been fighting for generations.”
Hupacasath officials are also thrilled they have been allowed to name the campground. Its official name is ʕaʔuk ʔaama k̓anis, which is pronounced ah-uk aah-ma ka-niss.
Hupacasath elected Chief Brandy Lauder said the name translates to ‘lake loon camp and rest area’ in the Hupacasath language.
“We value Mosaic recognizing Hupačasath traditional territories and the importance of our culture,” Lauder said. “We look forward to continue working together to explore more opportunities to benefit our people.”
Molly Hudson, the director of sustainability for Mosaic Forest Management, said her company has partnered with Hupacasath First Nation on various business and community ventures over the years.
For example, the two have worked together in the identification of archaeological sites, log purchases and marketing.
But this marks the first partnership between the two parties involving recreational use of land.
The site where the campground is being constructed currently includes a boat launch. But that is being upgraded to a launch that is more accessible.
A fishing dock will also be constructed as will a recreational trail network for walkers.
Dick said a kiosk will also be installed at the campground.
“There be will signage welcoming people to the campground and sharing history of the area,” Dick said, adding she’s among those pleased with the Hupacasath name chosen for the facility.
Dick believes it will mostly be residents from the province that will be utilizing the campsites.
“I think British Columbians would like to camp in more rustic ways,” said Dick, who is serving her second term as a Hupacasath councillor.
Hudson said Mosaic officials are pleased that representatives from the First Nation were keen to enter into a partnership to build the campground.
“We’re really excited they wanted to take these steps with us,” she said.
Hudson also said it will be determined in the future on whether to expand the campground and add more sites to it.
“It’s always possible,” she said. “We’ll see how things go to start and then we’ll see how we are doing in terms of occupancy.”
Hudson cautioned, however, there is only so much space available at the campground and officials would not want overcrowding to become an issue.
News of the latest campground means Mosaic Forest Management has grown its investment in recreational access. The Loon Lake campground is the 14th one the company is invested in on Vancouver Island.
Jeff Zweig, the president and CEO of Mosaic Forest Management, said his company is committed to building on its work with various communities to promote recreational access to 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,” Zweig said. “It is part of Mosaic's broader initiative to facilitate recreational opportunities in and around our working forest through dozens of access agreements with local organizations and our network of not-for-profit campsites on Vancouver Island.”
Josie Osborne, the MLA for Mid Island-Pacific Rim, is also pleased that a partnership was established between the two parties. That partnership will benefit several others.
“Spending time outdoors has always been a big part of who we are as west coasters,” she said. “It’s incredible to see the partnership between Mosaic and the Hupacasath First Nation moving forward with the naming of the new campsite. This work is something everyone involved should be proud of, and is an excellent way to share the best of our communities with visitors to the region.”