More than five months after the Friends of Historic Hat Creek Ranch Society announced that the site was in a state of uncertainty, the future of one of B.C.’s most popular heritage destinations remains unclear. File photo.

More than five months after the Friends of Historic Hat Creek Ranch Society announced that the site was in a state of uncertainty, the future of one of B.C.’s most popular heritage destinations remains unclear. File photo.

Future remains unclear for Historic Hat Creek Ranch

Proposed one-year extension to site management agreement creates instability

More than five months after the Friends of Historic Hat Creek Ranch Society (FHHCRS) announced that the site was in a state of uncertainty, the future of one of B.C.’s most popular heritage destinations remains unclear.

On Oct. 1, Historic Hat Creek updated the public with a lengthy Facebook post indicating the society had made almost no progress since announcing in May that the site managers would soon enter into a request for proposals (RFP) process to determine Hat Creek’s future.

 

The post has been shared more than 350 times and describes the lengthy ordeal that has kept Historic Hat Creek in limbo.

“After more than a year working with Heritage Branch trying to secure a contract for future years, we have made little to no progress,” reads the post. “We have complied with all the requirements asked of us from the provincial government, and yet they are only willing to extend our existing contract one year.”

After moving to an RFP this spring, the society has yet to finalize future plans, since the results of that RFP deemed neither of the two site applicants fit to manage Historic Hat Creek.

“This process began in June and proposals were due to the Heritage Branch by July 25,” reads the Facebook post. Both the Bonaparte Indian Band and the FHHCRS submitted proposals on time, but after multiple delays in announcing a successful applicant, the society discovered on Aug. 22 that they had failed to meet the minimum requirements to continue operating the site.

Since both proponents were deemed unqualified to act as the site operators of Historic Hat Creek, FHHCRS board chair Robert Sharkey wants to know “Why is Heritage Branch trying to get us to stay?”

The B.C. government cancelled the entire RFP process and changed the requirements to operate the site, he said, noting that he doesn’t understand why, but accepts the decision.

The site has been operated and managed successfully by the FHHCRS for over 15 years, but the society functions under a legal agreement with the Province of B.C. to provide its tourists with the opportunity to explore original buildings frequented by travellers during the Gold Rush of the 1860s.

“We’re under a one-year conditional extension to the existing site management agreement, and because of the way the tourism industry works, [with] a one- to two-year horizon… with this one year conditional extension we’ve suffered over $200,000 in lost bookings for next year because we couldn’t commit,” explained Sharkey. “It left us in a state of uncertainty that makes you unstable for the future and has a very negative effect on the staff.”

Read more: Historic Hat Creek Ranch in state of uncertainty

The government wants to renew their contract with the society, but Sharkey said the problem is that they’re offering yet another one-year conditional agreement.

“That puts us back on track of what I would call a financial death spiral, because we’ll just keep having to turn down even more [potential guests].”

He plans to present the Heritage Branch with a proposal that will seek to keep FHHCRS managing the site.

“That proposal will contain some elements that shall remove the uncertainty, give us stability, and the core of that is a five-year agreement,” said Sharkey. “As a business operation, you have to have certainty and stability to staff and operate properly, so we, of course, would be seeking a standard and nominal five-year agreement to be the site managers, similar to Barkerville, Yale… all the other ones.”

Sharkey said the board isn’t looking to cause trouble or point fingers by voicing their concerns over the process.

“We’re going to take the high road,” he said. “We hope that the public takes notice. That’s all we can hope.”

The Facebook post generated an overwhelmingly positive and supportive response, said Sharkey. “We’re hopeful the government takes notice.”

The post was made by Hat Creek’s live-in manager, Don Pearse, who reports to the FHHCRS. As an employee of the society that subsequently reports to the board, Pearse and the 40 employees who work alongside him will be directly affected if the site closes down in the future, said Sharkey.

The society — FHHCRS — are the site managers and are responsible for negotiating the continuation of their role with Heritage Branch. The FHHCRS board is essentially elected from the membership of the society, Sharkey explained. There are seats for local government officials, but in general the board is volunteer-based.

Despite the challenges faced this year, Historic Hat Creek had its best season yet in 2019. “Based on the metrics of number of visitors, number of employees, and revenue: best year ever.”

The contract between Heritage Branch and FHHCRS runs out at the end of March 2020.

“Within the prerogative of the government of B.C. they have every right to choose whoever they want to be the operators of the site,” concluded Sharkey. “However, the site does belong to the people of British Columbia, so they may have an interest in what’s going on.”



editorial@accjournal.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

North Okanagan business Hytec Kohler set up a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Spallumcheen plant Friday, May 14. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
More than half of eligible adults in Interior Health vaccinated

Over 365,000 vaccine doses have been administered throughout the Interior Health region

Doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine are seen being prepared on Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Decatur, Ga. Hundreds of children, ages 12 to 15, received the Pfizer vaccine at the DeKalb Pediatric Center, just days after it was approved for use within their age group. (AP Photo/Ron Harris)
One death, 60 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

The death is connected to the outbreak at Spring Valley long-term care in Kelowna

The first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dose in Canada is prepared at The Michener Institute in Toronto on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
One death, 39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

There are 484 active cases of the virus in the region currently

Kelly Servinski, of the Tutti Hotel in Clinton, climbs above the river. (Photo credit: http://www.sterlinglorence.com/)
Gravel is the new gold: Cyclist bumps new biking trend

There’s gravel in them thar hills around Clinton

Amy Newman follows the route of the Cariboo Waggon Road — now Highway 97 — through Clinton. (Photo credit: New Pathways to Gold Society)
Grant received for Cariboo Waggon Road restoration project north of Clinton

New Pathways to Gold hopes to start work this summer on restoring sections of historic road

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. Dr. Ben Chan remembers hearing the preliminary reports back in March of blood clots appearing in a handful of European recipients of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Science on COVID, VITT constantly changing: A look at how doctors keep up

While VITT can represent challenges as a novel disorder, blood clots themselves are not new

Poached trees that were taken recently on Vancouver Island in the Mount Prevost area near Cowichan, B.C. are shown on Sunday, May 10, 2021. Big trees, small trees, dead trees, softwoods and hardwoods have all become valuable targets of tree poachers in British Columbia as timber prices hit record levels. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne.
Tree poaching from public forests increasing in B.C. as lumber hits record prices

Prices for B.C. softwood lumber reached $1,600 for 1,000 board feet compared with about $300 a year ago

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

People shop in Chinatown in Vancouver on Friday, February 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver community leaders call for action following 717% rise in anti-Asian hate crimes

‘The alarming rise of anti-Asian hate in Canada and south of the border shows Asians have not been fully accepted in North America,’ says Carol Lee

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Most Read