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Cheam Fishing Village promotes calm on the river

Camping anglers enjoy the riverside view at Cheam Fishing Village in Agassiz, Aug. 16.  - Greg Laychak
Camping anglers enjoy the riverside view at Cheam Fishing Village in Agassiz, Aug. 16.
— image credit: Greg Laychak

In recent years, the turbulent flow of the Fraser River has seen calmer spirits in those who fish its waters.

For five years, the Fraser River Peacemakers have worked to bring stakeholders together to resolve conflict along the waterway.

And more recently, the Cheam First Nations offered an unprecedented olive branch to the sportfishing community.

“Six years ago, from the First Nations it was, ‘Get those sports fishermen off our river,’” said Ed George, vice-president of the BC Wildlife Federation and member of the Peacemakers.

“And this year the Cheam Band opened a campground specifically providing access for recreational guys to go camping, go fishing, launch their boats and spend a day on the river. It’s a beautiful place.”

Located in Agassiz, the grounds have been open since July 11 this year, providing campsites and facilities as well a boat launch. For those who want to fish from the Fraser’s banks, day parking is also available.

“We’re welcoming in the anglers now and figuring out how we’re going to share this portion of the river, our territory there,” said Darwin Douglas, Cheam First Nation council member.

While the campground was busy the past few weekends, the boat launch has been steady every day since the site opened, according to Douglas.

Boat launching is $10 per day, he said, with annual passes negotiable for people who are setting out frequently over the year.

“We’ve had a huge increase in the amount of people fishing on one of our main drifting areas,” Douglas said. “In the past we’d never allow anyone to angle there, but it seemed this year with the campsite, it just seemed natural.”

With a controlled system in place, the Cheam fishers can better communicate with the visiting anglers in the hopes of avoiding conflict on the waters—and generate income along the way.

“We realized the potential there . . . it’s beautiful riverfront land,” Douglas said.

“It just made sense as a business development idea: use our land in a way that is consistent with some of our cultural values—a campsite that is a tourism based business, we’re sustainable, and it’s to do with fishing.”

So far, the summer has been a success at the campground, with only one minor noise incident.

“We’re looking to have more of a family-oriented campground there and they thought it was going to be a good place to have a party all night.”

Noise down, lights out and fires doused at 11 p.m., said Douglas.

Then along the Fraser River among fishers and campers, there can be peace—and quiet.

• For more information visit www.cheamfishingvillage.com.

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