Cheam Fishing Village is a new campground ready to open this week on the Fraser River.
“It’s been a bit of a whirlwind project,” said Darwin Douglas, a Cheam band councillor, and board member for Cheam Entreprises, which is developing the campsite on Appel Road in Agassiz.
The venture is unique in Sto:lo territory.
“It’s the first time a community has built a campsite primarily for recreational fishermen,” Douglas said.
It’s shaping up to be a big season for salmon fishing on the Fraser this summer, so it only makes sense to put out the welcome mat for recreational anglers, he said.
“Fishing has always been a huge part of our culture. The idea is we will host them and welcome them into our community,” Douglas explained.
The fishing village offers a chance to share the picturesque site with visitors, as well as the history and culture of Cheam First Nation, also known as the Pilalt tribe. There will be 50 campsites, with many of them offering riverfront views.
“It’s a big step,” he noted.
There has been friction between the groups in the past, acknowledged Douglas. But there have also been improvements, and growth.
There have been discussions and collaborations between the communities in recent years that made the new business seem like a natural.
“We’ve talked about it at the band council level, and with fishermen. We want to go down a different path now.”
The idea to is to foster better communication and understanding on both sides, through positive interaction between Cheam members and anglers at the campground.
“We think it’s a good way to move forward. We’re excited about it.”
The recreational fishery has seen steady growth, with many coming from across the Lower Mainland, Vancouver and Washington state to fish the mighty Fraser.
“There’s lots of demand for access to the river, and not a whole lot of accessible land,” said Douglas. “Tourism and fishing are two things that fit very well together.
The campground is seen as a solid and sustainable business opportunity for Cheam members.
“We have a lot to offer and it’s completely in line with our values.”
The new business is expected to eventually create some employment during the busy summer season for the community members.
“We’re looking at five to 10 jobs in our first year.”
There’s a soft opening at the campground on Friday, July 11, with plans for a grand opening and traditional Sto:lo welcome at the site on July 15.
The campsites each have a fire pit and picnic table. There’s also a boat launch and day parking available, as well as trails and cultural tours.
The grand opening of the campground is set for the day before a recreational fishery is expected to open on the Fraser River for chinook salmon.
To book a campsite, call 604-997-5533. Cheam Fishing Village is located at 930 Appel Road in Agassiz.
*This version was modified from print to include the correct address of the campground.