Homalco First Nation Announces Its Upcoming Acquisition of Campbell River-based Way West Water Taxi Ltd.
CAMPBELL RIVER, BC, (October 26, 2023) — Today, the Homalco First Nation is pleased to announce its purchase of Way West Water Taxi Ltd., offering water transportation from Campbell River and the North Island to surrounding islands since 1996. Clients from remote communities, forestry, tourism, First Nations, fisheries and private individuals which rely heavily on this service can expect business as usual upon sale completion at the end of this month.
According to Chief Darren Blaney, “This acquisition is very exciting news for Homalco First Nation, Campbell River and neighbouring communities. Retaining local ownership of such a respected and successful company while pursuing sustainable, thoughtful economic growth where our communities can benefit and work together is important for us as we move forward.”
Current owners, Ryan Early and David Pedneault, are extremely pleased with the sale agreement, which keeps its employees and operations in place. “Our safety record is something of which we’re very proud, and we have our dedicated staff to thank for this. Also, the loyalty of our customers from all sectors has meant the world to us. This sale agreement assures them that our company will retain its commitments and team while also offering a promising future for expanded employment within the Homalco Group of Businesses.”
General Manager with Homalco First Nation, JP Obbagy, believes this is a natural fit with Homalco’s expanding tourism business and economic development plans in the Nation’s traditional territory. “We have seen strong growth in our existing tour and water taxi business and the expertise shared between companies will be invaluable. I am very excited about the benefits this will bring to Homalco members, the people of Campbell River and surrounding communities.”
The purchase of Way West Water Taxi, nearly a year in planning, “allows for greater collaboration with local businesses and our First Nation neighbors including the Klahoose, Wei Wai Kum and We Wai Kai” added Obbagy.
Chief Darren stated in closing, “The Homalco First Nation community is very proud to bring this company into its business portfolio. It further demonstrates our determination as a People to greet the present and move into the future with a focus on sustainability, collaboration, inclusivity, diversity and innovation.”
Way West Water Taxi, on Northern Vancouver Island, British Columbia, has provided water taxi service from Campbell River since 1996. Since its inception, Way West has provided more than 100,000 hours of safe transportation and reliable service for our valued customers. The business serves many diverse industries with the transportation of people, equipment and supplies to remote communities, camps and worksites. Our scheduled water taxi and marine transportation services connect Campbell River and North Central Vancouver Island to areas such as Stuart Island, Dent Island, Sonora Island, the Thurlow Islands, and multiple inlets on the mainland. In addition, as West Coast Grizzly Bear Tours, work with Klahoose First Nation to deliver world-class bear viewing in Toba Inlet.
The Xwémalhkwu, or Homalco, are traditionally known as the “people of fast running waters.” We are named after the turbulent waters surrounding our original home in Bute Inlet and the Discovery Islands of British Columbia and have been living on our territories since time immemorial. The Homalco have always been known as a generous and kind people. Our Elders tell stories of welcoming visitors with open arms and a hot meal at the ready. Homalco people are strong and resilient having endured great hardships and suffered collective pain. We face these challenges with courage and optimism as the Nation grows and moves forward.
Homalco Wildlife & Cultural Tours is an award-winning Indigenous tour company on Vancouver Island. Tours depart from Campbell River into the Homalco First Nation traditional territory of the Discovery Islands and Bute Inlet. Guests share in our stories, history and language on eco-adventures that include grizzly bear viewing, whale watching and First Nations culture tours. As stewards of the land, we engage in regenerative tourism with fees from all tours helping to support salmon restoration, bear conservation, whale research and cultural reclamation. We welcome inquisitive explorers who desire a deeper connection with nature and culture.