COURTENAY – New Democrat MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard is welcoming $1 million in provincial funding to support the Comox Valley Project Watershed Society’s acquisition of the former Field Sawmill site (Kus-kus-sum) in the K’ómoks estuary.
“It is a huge win for everyone involved in bringing Kus-kus-sum forward, and for the Comox Valley as a whole,” said Leonard. “The project team knocked on my door when I took office and I am pleased that today, the province is providing this funding for such a complex and inspirational initiative. It’s an exciting opportunity to return an industrial site to its former natural state, while also honouring the historical presence of the K’ómoks First Nation.”
Project Watershed, in partnership with the K’ómoks First Nation (KFN) and the City of Courtenay, has entered into an agreement with Interfor to purchase and restore the former Field Sawmill site on the Courtenay River near the 17th Street Bridge. The project site is named Kus-kus-sum – meaning tree burial– in recognition of its traditional use by the K’ómoks First Nation as the final resting place for their ancestors.
The project partners intend to restore the former industrial site to saltmarsh, side-channel and riparian habitats, supporting the recovery of fish and wildlife species, and mitigate flooding in the region.
To complete the purchase of the site, the project partners need to raise over $3M before the end of the year. Leonard said the provincial grant of $1 million, through the Ministry of Forest, Lands, Natural Resource Operations, and Rural Development will go a long way in making the project a reality.
“We are so pleased that the province is making this generous contribution to Project Watershed. Thank you to MLA Leonard for helping us secure this provincial funding. Support from the province is truly essential in achieving our conservation and reconciliation vision.” – Bill Heidrick, Acting Chair, Comox Valley Project Watershed Society
“This project is a key step in advancing true and lasting reconciliation in the Comox Valley. Kus-kus-sum holds important cultural significance for our nation, and we look forward to its return. We are very grateful that the province has agreed to help fund this important project.” – Nicole Rempel, Chief Councillor, K’ómoks First Nation
“This announcement is excellent news for our community. The people of Courtenay have really united around this unique partnership and are working hard to help meet the project’s fundraising goals. I want to thank MLA Leonard and the ministry for their support in moving us all a giant step closer to the restoration of Kus-kus-sum.” – Doug Hillian, Councillor, City of Courtenay
Learn more about Kus-kus-sum: https://projectwatershed.ca/estuary-stewardship/fields-sawmill-kuskussum/