Semiahmoo First Nation Chief Harley Chappell and band councillor Joanne Charles say they can ‘almost see the starting line,’ now that pre-work on long-awaited water/sewer infrastructure has begun. (Tracy Holmes photo)

SFN infrastructure expected ‘in the blink of an eye’

Semiahmoo First Nation chief and councillor guesstimate connections still nearly a year away

It may be close to another year before the first connection to potable water is in place on the Semiahmoo First Nation reserve.

“Maybe by Christmas,” Chief Harley Chappell and band councillor Joanne Charles guesstimated Friday of the timeline, during an interview regarding pre-work that began last week for a water/sewer infrastructure project.

And while 10 months may sound like a long stretch to some – especially given that a year ago, there was some belief that a first connection could be made as early as this spring, and that the reserve has been on a boil-water advisory since 2005 – the officials have a different perspective.

“In our history of 10,000 years here… another 10 months is a blink of an eye,” Chappell told Peace Arch News.

Planning, design and more for the infrastructure has been underway “for years.” It took on a particular urgency following the City of White Rock’s August 2016 notice to the band that their water supply would be terminated “within… 18 months.”

Much has happened in the years since, including the SFN learning in June 2017 that their community was to be among 33 to receive federal funding – $338,000 – to assist with water infrastructure, and, early last summer, the signing of “historic” servicing agreements with the City of Surrey for water and sanitary sewer.

READ MORE: Semiahmoo First Nation to have safe drinking water

More conspicuous signs of progress were noticed last week, when trees alongside Beach Road began to be felled.

PAN reported on the activity after area residents reached out with concerns about “400 plus trees coming down,” with several piles of cut trees visible at the corner of Beach Road and Highway 99.

Chappell – who initially confirmed in a Facebook comment that the felling was pre-work for the infrastructure – told PAN Friday that SFN residents are “well aware” that work towards laying the infrastructure is underway.

Other visible clues Friday afternoon included signage, posted just west of the entrance to Peace Arch Park, indicating Beach Road is closed to all forms of traffic – a move that Charles said was necessitated by pedestrians not being respectful of construction-zone signs – and an SFN member stationed nearby to ensure the notice was taken seriously.

The closure will continue “until further notice,” Charles noted.

As well, many trees alongside the road heading west into the reserve were numbered with red spray paint or marked with ribbon, and, wooden markers topped with pink ribbon dotted a similar path.

Chappell and Charles said they couldn’t confirm if the pink-topped markers denoted the future route of the infrastructure, stating there are still details about the project that they can’t share publicly for fear of jeopardizing the process, as well as answers they don’t yet have themselves.

Even with the progress, there is still much to be done before the infrastructure can be laid, they noted.

Those steps include remediation of Beach Road itself, due to contaminants remaining from the use of oil as a dust suppressant back when the road was a gravel route. That is a process in itself, Chappell said, as the road has never been dug up and “a lot of our history is in that road.”

Chappell said all the steps so far have brought the community the furthest forward it’s ever been.

“I think the exciting piece (is) we can almost see the starting line,” he said.

“(We’re) almost able to start moving our community into today’s day-and-age.

“It’s been a long go, it’s been challenging and there’s lots of good things coming with it.”



tholmes@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Beach Road was closed last week, and is to remain closed to the public ‘until further notice,’ to ensure infrastructure pre-work can be done safely, SFN officials say. (Tracy Holmes photo)

Tree-cutting that got underway on Beach Road caught some eyes last week. (Tracy Holmes photo)

Just Posted

55-year-old man taken to hospital after fire at Surrey RV park

Firefighters find man suffering from smoke inhalation, burns to face and hands: battalion chief

OUR VIEW: Let’s find Surrey pellet-gun punks

Those who do have information – if they are also possessed of a conscience – must contact police

Coldest Night an event for warm hearts

Sources’ White Rock event one of 130 walkathons across Canada on Feb. 23

VIDEO: A new Hive climbing/fitness facility coming to Surrey in 20,000-sq.-ft. space

‘Bouldering’ and other activities planned at site near Pattullo Bridge

MK Delta Lands development another step closer to breaking ground

Delta needs Metro Vancouver’s okay before swapping hundreds of acres and adding it to Burns Bog

VIDEO: Historic night in Red Deer as 2019 Canada Winter Games kicks off

Star-studded Opening Ceremony features athletes from across Canada

B.C. couple attacked with acid, slashed with knife in Vietnam

Warning, graphic images: Man has burns on 80 per cent of his body, slashed with knife

Flying squirrels found to glow pink in the dark, including two from B.C.

Squirrels from Hope and Abbotsford were included in the biologists’ database

Ontario police field complaints over Amber Alert for missing girl, 11, found dead

Some said the Amber Alert issued late Thursday for Riya Rajkumar disrupted their sleep

Northern B.C. First Nation clan says ancient tools found at pipeline work site

Archeologists from the Smithsonian Institute estimate one of the stones found dates back up to 3500 years

Wilson-Raybould resignation stokes anger, frustration within veterans community

Liberals have had three veterans-affairs ministers — Kent Hehr, Seamus O’Regan and Wilson-Raybould

No Center of Gravity festival in Kelowna this summer: organizers

COG organizers said the hope is to return to the Okanagan in 2020

Names keep adding to vaccine petition started by B.C. mom

Maple Ridge mom started campaign to make vaccination a condition of attending school

Most Read