A Province-wide Call for our Home Waters

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A watershed moment in BC water governance.

The modernization of the 104-year-old BC Water Act is finally happening. This is in large part thanks to people like you who have made the need to protect our home waters such an ever-present issue in the media, on the streets in the community, and throughout the last provincial election--it has been made clear that the government cannot delay this any longer.

A legislative proposal was released on Friday, October 18, and we now have 4 weeks to provide our comments and feedback. The devil is always in the details and with something as precious as water we can't afford to get this wrong.

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Be Heard! Chilliwack Official Community Plan Needs You!

mt_thom_view.jpgWork on updating Chilliwack's Official Community Plan is nearing its final stages. Results of community surveys and other community engagement activities by the City have consistently shown that residents place protection of water in its various forms and uses among their highest priorities in planning for the community's future. However work is needed to ensure this wide-spread community value is entrenched within the future plans for our home town.

WaterWealth would like to encourage Chilliwack residents to continue to impress upon the City that the health of our home waters is central to our local economy and our quality of life and that the OCP must develop bylaws to ensure our water wealth is protected as it should be.

Some things with regard to water and our community that you might want to bring up:

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World Rivers Day in Chilliwack

For World Rivers Day, 29 September 2013, WaterWealth joined in the Chilliwack Vedder River Cleanup Society's (CVRCS) celebration and cleanup at the Chilliwack Fish and Game clubhouse on Chilliwack Lake Road.

CVRCS Rivers Day Celebration

The Chilliwack/Vedder River has always been a special place for people who call this region home. Before Europeans settled in the region there were Stó:lō settlements throughout the Chilliwack River watershed from Sxótsaqel (Chilliwack Lake) to the Stó:lō (the Fraser River). The Chilliwack river and its tributaries are home to a variety of sacred sites. The river is also well known for white water rafting and kayaking, is an extremely popular fishing site and feeds the aquifer that Chilliwack relies on for its drinking water.

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Water at the UBCM Convention 2013

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The Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) held their 2013 Convention September 16-20 in Vancouver.

It is said on the Resolutions and Policy Papers web page of the Convention that “Consideration of resolutions and policy papers comprises the main business of the annual UBCM Convention” and indeed 156 resolutions made it into the Resolutions Book 2013.

Of those 156 resolutions, twelve dealt directly with water issues...

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Whose Water? A First Nation's Perspective

west_coast_trail.jpgAs is so often the case here in BC when controversy arises concerning land and resources, many non-natives rally to the cry that it is “our” resources or it's “public land” that's at stake.

 

To some First Nations, this, at best, is met with puzzlement; how did my People's traditional land and resources become something that belongs to all British Columbians?

 

A case in point is the recent issue of Nestle's water extraction operation in Hope. Here we have one of the largest corporations in the world taking 260 million litres of water per year from the Hope aquifer without charge. Certainly an issue to be concerned about; however, the media narrative is grounded in the notion of water as a public resource. The Sto:lo Nation communities of Chawathil and Union Bar would like to know how their rights and title to this particular resource was taken from them.

After all, Canada is supposedly a democratic society based on the rule of law and, after all, the highest law of the land, the Canadian constitution, “recognizes and affirms” Aboriginal Rights and Title; and finally, after all, there is a BC treaty process, as dysfunctional as it might be. These things are supposed to mean something, not just be token gestures to the reality of the usurpation of native sovereignty in this country.

And what has come with the usurpation of control over our traditional territories? Certainly not cleaner, healthier and more productive waterways. And certainly not inclusive, accountable and localized decision making that serves the common good.

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Free Groundwater for Nestle is One of many Corporate Give-aways of water in BC

nestlemux2.jpgIt has been a whirlwind week of media outcry since Dan Fumano of the Province newspaper broke the story that Nestle - the world's largest food corporation - has been taking more than 260 million litres of water from BC's ground water for free. 

Despite the fact that Nestle never applied for a license to access the water and is draining the size of a small lake each year, they are not breaking the law. In fact Nestle's operation is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to industries that are taking advantage of BC's outdated water laws. Beyond bottled water, industries like mining, agriculture and natural gas fracking are able to tap into BC's ground water without paying a cent to the public coffers.

With National media attention on Nestle in Hope, BC - in the heart of our home waters - we have an opportunity to lead the way on reforms to how this precious water is valued.

Will you help us win this? Please support us now by signing up to volunteer or providing us with a donation.

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Women & Water - We want to hear from you!

women_water_header.jpgWhat does it mean to live as a woman and experience changes in water costs, quality and management practices?

How do these experiences impact on one's health and well-being?

How are these experiences different from mens?

These are some of the questions that are being asked by Megan Peloso of the Water Economics, Policy and Governance Network (WEPGN) with the Water Governance Program at the University of British Columbia.  Megan contacted me to ask if the WaterWealth Project would be willing to host a focus group conversation to bring together some perspectives of women in the Fraser Valley. 

Bringing fellow community members together to participate in projects that have the potential to transform policies and practices to improve protection of water wealth is a foundational reason of why I do this work, so of course I agreed to help host this important process of research. Also since the Fraser Valley has some of the best home waters in the world, I believe that having the perspectives of the women who call this place home - some who have lived here for generations, if not time immemorial - really has the potential to offer a wide-ranging benefit for people across the province, if not the country. 

Peaked your interest? Want to add your voice to this important conversation? Then be in touch! The Water and Women focus group will take place on Tuesday, August 20th at the WaterWealth Project Office from 5pm to 7pm. Participants will receive $40 appreciation for their time and input. Travel will be covered on a case-by-case basis and childcare will be available upon request.

Hope to see you there!

Please contact Megan Peloso at mmpeloso@gmail.com to register to participate.

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Residents of Luckakuck Creek speak up for their home waters

Residents of Luckakuck Creek speak up for their home waters

photo1.jpgIt 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.  

photo2.jpgThe 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.

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Stop the Destruction, Start the Healing

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It is hard to take in the scope of destruction that has occurred in the tar sands.
The mind can't connect this toxic wasteland to the boreal forest that used to be alive here.

My mind did not make that connection until nearly a week after the Healing Walk when I wrote that line and had to stop writing for a while.  This was, I think, what a friend was looking for when she looked at me shortly after the walk and asked "So?"  I didn't have much to say at the time.

You can look at the tar sands if you don't think too much.  The tailings lakes look like water.  The white sand around them looks like nice beach.  The floating orange scare-crows are kind of amusing.  The boom of propane cannons is familiar from Fraser Valley farms.  Don't think about the smell and what you might be breathing that a dust mask does not filter.  Be thankful for the rain that keeps the dust down.

Think about statistics.  Like in 2010 per day;

1,460,000 barrels of tar sands oil produced

465,753,000 litres of water used

241,370 tonnes of greenhouse gases

Per day.  Those are big numbers.  Nearly half a billion litres of water per day contaminated and dumped into these deadly tailings lakes.  Nearly a quarter million tonnes, that's nearly a quarter billion kilograms, of greenhouse gas emissions into our atmosphere per day.  I can look at numbers like that and discuss how the atmosphere surpassed 400ppm CO2 recently or how river flows are declining in Alberta as the glaciers recede and climate change brings us the new boom and bust water cycle that smacked down Calgary and Toronto recently.  I can talk about these things and then go have supper and enjoy the drumming in the Healing Walk camp and look forward to a swim in a real lake the next morning.

Just don't think of life and the fact that this grey, stinking devastation used to be a living place with soil and plants and trees, animals and birds and people.  Don't think of complicity in the loss of life, the utter disregard for life that has occurred here.  Don't think of the radius of harm that reaches out with the weather and the water flowing past this place, taking cancer to the fish and the animals and the people who live many kilometres down river.  Don't think of how federal and provincial authorities continue to promote this foul death as the future for Canada while practising denial and obfuscation in the face of growing proof that this development is killing people in places like Fort Chipewyan.  Don't think about how this is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada, contributing to species loss occurring now at a rate unprecedented even by the mass extinction that ended the age of dinosaurs. Don't think about how this devastation is spreading back to our home towns, pushing pipelines and oil trains close to our schools, our local businesses and our home waters.

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Overhaul the BC Water Act

BC_Water_Act.jpgSo it's summer time and I know you have better things to do than write letters to politicians, but when water is so essential to our summer time fun I thought you would agree that taking one minute to help ensure we have better fresh water protection is something worthy of your time. 

Essentially we have a strategic opportunity to affect the outcome of the BC Liberals plans for the BC Water Act, but we need to act now!

We have gone through two elections where the BC Liberals have made an election promise to overhaul the highly inadequate BC Water Act. With their recent success they are drafting their priorities for the coming years. They need to hear from you that water protection is something that must make the top of their list!

As a member of our community in the Fraser Valley, it would mean a lot if you sent in a letter MLA John Martin or MLA Laurie Throness and tell them that you want to see an overhaul of the BC Water Act and ensure needed protections for our home waters.

To make it easier, we crafted a letter for you that you can send in with only a few clicks. That said, please feel free to cut, paste and adapt the text to your own language as unique letters tend to have more impact.

Thank you in advance for your time to contribute to the changes we need to see to protect our home waters as they should be so we can enjoy them today, tomorrow and for generations to come.

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