Residents of Luckakuck Creek speak up for their home waters
It was a hot Tuesday evening, no doubt better spent by the banks of the Vedder Canal or on the beaches of Cultus Lake, but more than 30 residents from the residential area that intersects the head-waters of Luckakuck creek – south of Stevenson Rd in Chilliwack - came together at City Hall on July 16th to oppose a bylaw amendment that would transform their quiet neighbour into a new 44 town-home development.
The proposed development, crafted by developer Larry Les, seeks to bury the Luckakuck creek headwaters and remove some of the senior trees and plant life that supports the frog, salamander, fish, duck and raccoon life in the area. Other concerns were raised about how altering this area would increase traffic and decrease the property values of people who have invested many years into making the neighbourhood their home.
In addition to speaking to council members for more than an hour and a half, local residents submitted three letters to council, including one from Donna Yates, an 83 year old resident and enthusiastic supporter of Chilliwack, who in the sunset years of her life is feeling bullied to sell her home to the developer because the developer has failed to meet with her and ensure the proposal met her needs.
The other letters included a report from Dr. Mike Pearson who identified the waterway as having high value, providing significant habitat for many creatures including endangered species. Also included was a petition crafted by Eddy & Laura Mejlholm which received the endorsement of more than 30 of their neighbours asking that the development be opposed and replaced with a plan that protects the waterway and does not compromise the unique qualities of the neighbourhood.
Because of the heartfelt testimony and time of these local residents to speak to their city council members, the by-law rezoning is being held at 3rd reading until a development plan that looks at the environmental, traffic and community impacts is provided by the developer.
This doesn't mean we can rest assured that the creek and all the benefits of the waterway will be protected; and the work is not over for local community members, who will have to continue to organize to assert their values and their needs. But it does show that local residents do have power when they choose to assert it, and that having local control over development will help to ensure our home waters are protected as they should be.
Given that 97% of Chilliwack residents identified the protection of drinking water and streams as the top priority for Chilliwack’s Official Community Plan, this is an opportunity for our city to start achieving that goal, with the potential to transform future development in Chilliwack to ensure that land-use planning is done in a way that protects our water wealth and ensures the needs and the values for all the people who call this place home.