Indian Group Protests New B.C. Resort

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Lillooet, BC, Aug. 17--A group of protesters made up of members of several Indian tribes native to British Columbia staged a blockade of the main route to a proposed ski resort Tuesday, a day after the resort won tentative approval from the B.C. government.

While the blockade was cleared after several hours of halting traffic on the main route between the coast and the province's interior, Gary John, chief of the Lillooet Tribal Council, said there could be more blockades in the future.

The resort, which would be the first new major mountain resort to be built in B.C. since Blackcomb Mountain 20 years ago, was issued an environmental assessment certificate Monday despite opposition from some native Indian chiefs in the area who claim the proposed resort is located on their traditional territory, and from environmentalists worried about the resort's possible impact on the area's mountain goat and grizzly habitat.

The resort is being proposed by former Canadian Olympic champion NancyGreene-Raine and her husband, developer Al Raine. The husband-and-wife team proposes spending $500-million on 14 lifts over a period of 15 years in a valley surrounded by mountains rising above 2,600 meters (8,528 feet).

If everything goes according to plan, the resort could open in about three years, with the first phase completed in four to five years. Besides alpine and cross-country skiing, amenities would include a conference center and summer activities focused around mountain biking, hiking and horseback riding.