It’s been 4 months since our team at the WaterWealth Project opened the office doors with the vision of seeing better water protection through more community control in the Fraser Valley. So in reading the conclusions of the City of Chilliwack’s Official Community Plan Community Survey, which had nearly 500 respondents, it was like a drink of ice cold unchlorinated water on a hot summer day -- invigorating and refreshing.
The outcomes showed that 97% of residents want to see the "protection of drinking water and local streams" as a top priority in the plan for city growth, affirming the community pride we've encountered first hand through our work on the ground as we've been connecting with thousands of local residents. Growing up in the region I didn’t realize how lucky I was to have such clean, pure, home waters teeming with life and productivity. Now with the opportunity to contribute to the community plan for growth in the region I am encouraged to see that I am not alone in a vision to protect the rivers, lakes and streams that provide us all with so much.
Of course the tricky part is how we put our values into practice. At the moment our community growth plan is not being structured to respect and uphold the natural flow of our waterways. In fact, to date a majority of the housing and agricultural developments have occurred in such a way that much of our home waters have been redirected, destroyed or polluted. Furthermore mega corporations like Kinder Morgan are trying to push through projects like a heavy oil pipeline directly through the Cheam wetlands and across our drinking water aquifer; the result of even a tiny spill from this pipeline would be serious toxic contamination. You don't have to take my word for it--numerous peer-reviewed scientific studies exist to show us in measurable and rational terms just how profound this risk is. Furthermore, local organizations like the Sto:lo Research and Resource Management Center and the Fraser Basin Council have compiled decades of data about how our home waters flow and what is needed to ensure they are kept healthy.
We are lucky to still have beauty and wealth in the Valley that is worth defending. Please ensure you participate in the Official Community Plan and don't hesitate to contact us at WaterWealth for more information on how you can join in to ensure our community's growth safeguards our waters for the long-term sustainable well-being we all deserve.
Chilliwack Official Community Plan Public Engagement Summary (PDF)