Modesta Stelkia-Betterton asks for a blessing on the Osoyoos Indian Band's latest project

Resort drives Osoyoos economy

Over the next few weeks, construction will begin in earnest on a $120 million housing development near Oliver, comprising about 400 homes surrounding the Osoyoos Indian Band’s N’kmip Canyon Golf Course.

Over the next few weeks, construction will begin in earnest on a $120 million housing development near Oliver, comprising about 400 homes surrounding the Osoyoos Indian Band’s N’kmip Canyon Golf Course. The origins of the project trace back many years, to the early 1960s, when the band council of the day leased a section of land to a group of Osoyoos and Oliver developers. That was the start of the Cherry Grove golf course, which became N’kmip Canyon in the ‘90s, after the band recovered the lease and invested in it to create a world-class championship course. While Canyon Desert isn’t going to be as large as some golf resorts, like the 2,300 home Ponderosa development being constructed around the Greg Norman course near Peachland, Chief Clarence Louie of the OIB said it will still be an important economic boost for the area. “I think we are all committed to the economy of the South Okanagan and improving our lifestyle here and bringing in hard-working families,” said Louie. “We look forward to attracting hundreds of new first-class people to the Oliver/Osoyoos area. This is going to be a first-class project.” Oliver Mayor Pat Hampson agrees Canyon Desert will be a huge boost for his community. “There are many things we lack in terms of accommodation. It’s going to create visitors, it is going to create additional income for business … I can’t see it as anything other than a win-win situation for everybody,” Hampson said. Modesta Stelkia-Betterton, an elder of the OIB, gave a blessing at the ceremonial sod turning for the project last Saturday. It’s something she has done for many of the band’s projects, including the start of the Spirit Ridge Resort in Osoyoos. “I just ask the Creator for a blessing for all my people. I am just hoping that it helps everyone … that it will be good for all the people, not just the First Nations,” she said. Betterton has seen a lot of change for the OIB as the band has developed into an economic powerhouse, including the education and empowerment of the band’s youth. “This is another step in our economic development, to do things for ourselves,” she said. “It really has been a blessing for myself to see this coming and to see this project through.” Curt Janzen, director of real estate sales for BellStar Hotels and Resorts, also sees the project as part of a larger vision. “Make no mistake, we are standing here today because of a vision. It’s a vision of Clarence Louie, the OIB council and the members of the OIB,” he said. “It’s a vision dating back to 2001, to complement this beautiful, championship golf course with a master-planned community.” BellStar is one of the band’s partners on the project, along with CCG Development Ltd. It’s the second collaboration between BellStar and the OIB — they also partnered to develop the successful Spirit Ridge Resort, which incorporates the band’s N’kmip Cultural Centre. “Great projects come about through exceptional vision and commitment of people and organizations. That’s what we have here,” said BellStar president Ed Romanowski. Canyon Desert is the first master-planed community in the Oliver area, to be completed over a 15 to 20-year period. The project will eventually comprise golf villas, waterfront homes, beach lodges, golf lodges and a full-service hotel with conference facilities, pool, spa, restaurant and wine bar. The long-term vision for Canyon Desert also includes the South Okanagan’s first wine cave, a B.C. wine interpretive centre and a culinary arts school.

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