Good Riddance 2021. Hello 2022!

Heron with newbornAs 2020 drew to a close ... remember that? Does it feel like about five years ago to you too? Anyway, as 2020 drew to a close, WaterWealth's year end blog "Less Hearings, More Fish" was optimistic.

We looked forward to putting the Trans Mountain Expansion Project behind us, hopeful for a route change in Chilliwack to protect so many vital, valued, and vulnerable community assets.

We were excited to be turning our full attention to climate-focused watershed monitoring. To developing a strong foundation of community science and engagement and sharing our experience with like-minded groups in other watersheds.

2021 was going to be a year of focusing on the world we want rather than fighting federal fossil fuel fixations.

2021 had other ideas.

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Keeping Watch

A trio of updates on the Trans Mountain project. A loss, a win, and a 'we’ll see'.
Bonus content, a couple of games for the kids!

Recent events highlight the value of knowing the history on this project, and keeping watch as it stumbles forward.

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Big Day at Deer Creek

August 3, 2021 was the big day at the Deer Creek off-channel restoration project!

Valley Tank & Container Service, A.D.S Bobcat & Excavating Services, DFO, WaterWealth, and Tamihi Meadows Campground all pitched in on site, while Gerry Enns Contracting, Emil Anderson Construction and Pacific Salmon Foundation where there through funding and support. That giant HVAC truck was amazing!

equipment.jpg

The intake to the off-channel area was cleared and water is flowing again through the roughly kilometre and a quarter of great aquatic habitat. (OK, some work still to do.)

flowing.jpg

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The Power of Volunteers

When Trans Mountain Expansion Project route hearings started the first time, in 2017/2018 under the NEB, the route here in Chilliwack did not cross Watson Elementary School.

Under the NEB, route hearings always included three issues:

- location of the pipeline,
- methods of construction, and
- timing of construction.

When route hearings started the second time, in 2019 just as the NEB was replaced by the CER, the route had been changed and it did cross Watson Elementary School.

Under the CER, those who had not filed a statement of opposition in the first round had to show “a material change in circumstances” in their statement of opposition (SOO) for the second round. And under the CER that material change in circumstances determined which of the three issues was included in your hearing. Most only got one. A few got two. Only one new SOO filer got all three issues included in the scope of their hearing.

Even though the route had not crossed Watson Elementary School before, in the route hearing for the elementary school the Chilliwack Board of Education was only allowed to address the location of the pipeline. Not methods or timing of construction.

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Flowing with Changes

Anderson Creek
Upstream, Anderson Creek

Natural streams are living systems, and like all living things they change. Indeed, a stream remains what it is only by changing.

One of WaterWealth’s watershed monitoring sites has been a story of change, large to small.

The stream has no name in the Ministry of Environment stream report. We started out calling it “Unnamed Stream 31300” from its watershed code 100-065700-09700-31300. A sign refers to the pond downstream as "Anderson Pond." The name “Anderson” also appears next to a structure, likely a homestead, near what is presumably this stream on a map drawn by Chief William Sepass in 19181 (the stream itself is unlabelled). We're not aware of a Halq'eméylem name for this stream.

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Lost, found, and looking forward

A lost data logger comes home!

In August 2018, when we were first thinking of WaterWealth taking up stream temperature monitoring, we bought one Onset temperature logger to try out. Impressed with the logger and free phone app they work with, we went ahead, but there was lots to do before we'd be ready to deploy loggers. Meanwhile we thought this one may as well be in the water somewhere.

The last time we saw that first logger was March 17, 2019 when it was put into Hope River in a landscaping brick (for mass and protection) with a rope tied to a log on shore.

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2021 - Less Hearings, More Fish!

poster_16th_annual.jpgDecember 23, 2020.

Were this a normal December 23, this evening would have been the 16th annual Two-Three Party.

Generously hosted for many years by Major League 2 Taphouse and Sports Pub, the Two-Three Party has been organized by the same great group of Chilliwack folk who have put it on every year since it started as a small gathering in a basement.

Two-Three has always been a fundraiser for Rights Action in Guatemala and a lucky local group. Since 2013 that local group has been The WaterWealth Project, and Two-Three always set us up to head into the new year in a good way.

But of course this is 2020. What a year it’s been!

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Everything Hitched to Everything Else

WaterWealth's climate monitoring program has reached another milestone!

salmon_migration_routes.jpgLike a salmon life cycle, and like the program itself as local action on a global problem, the backstory to this latest milestone is an example of interconnections across different geographic and political scales.

Our list of monitoring sites was submitted to Ts'elxwéyeqw Tribe on May 1, 2020. (See our April 30 blog post "Climate Monitoring Milestone Met" for more on why this project in this watershed.) Subsequent discussions with Ts'elxwéyeqw Tribe and additional information from Pearson Ecological added a few more sites to our list. An approach to monitoring Sxótsaqel (Chilliwack Lake) was arrived at, leveraging on-going work by Pearson Ecological to study a very unusual population of lake-dwelling dace there.

Within two weeks of our list being submitted we got a referral report from the People of the River Referrals Office (PRRO) with recommendations and resources to help us go about this work in the territory in a good way. Our next step was to absorb those materials and recommendations into policies for how we will go about the work.

However, our climate action had to be delayed due to the Trans Mountain Expansion Project detailed route hearings. How's that for a microcosm of Canada on climate and energy right now?

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No Hearing is an Island

(Be sure to check the update at the bottom.)

langley_tm_rte_350.jpgYou may have seen the headline, “Trans Mountain deal means new Fort Langley foot bridge.”

The Township of Langley is getting $1.4 million from Trans Mountain’s Community Benefits program for construction of a pedestrian bridge in Fort Langley. This follows the Township withdrawing from the detailed route hearings on the Trans Mountain Expansion Project in May. The Aldergrove Star article indicates the Township reached agreement with Trans Mountain on the issues of importance to the Township.

However, the Township decision to withdraw from the hearings has impacts beyond their own hearing.

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Pipeline Hearings, Home Stretch

stick person opposes oil pipeline across drinking water sourceJanuary 12, 2016 WaterWealth filed its final argument in the certificate hearing for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project.

WaterWealth argued that;

- the project should not be approved;

- if it was approved the route across Chilliwack should be changed so that the pipeline passes no closer to City wells than the Trans Canada Highway, and;

- the existing pipeline, installed in 1952-1953, should also be moved to the new route, away from City drinking water sources.

The Project was approved. The route was not changed, other than a variance by Trans Mountain that actually made it worse. And WaterWealth has been embroiled in the Project ever since.

Trans Mountain's original project schedule had the new pipeline in operation by the end of 2017. When WaterWealth filed that final argument in January 2016 no one expected we'd still be fighting the issue through 2020!

The outcome of nearly 5 years work to change the pipeline route will be known this Fall.

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