The first all-candidates’ meeting in Chilliwack for the 2017 provincial election wades into watery themes — just in time for World Water Day next Wednesday.
Event organizers are inviting the community to bring their water-related questions and concerns to the meeting at the Sto:lo Research and Resource Management Centre on March 22.
Candidates from the ridings of Chilliwack and Chilliwack-Hope will get a chance to explore the vast topic of water, and possibly other critical issues, at the two-hour meeting using a Q&A format, said Ian Stephen, program director of Chilliwack WaterWealth Project.
With fresh water being so pivotal and vital to “life and lifestyle” the candidates’ forum will also underline the many ways that waterways and water sources across the Fraser Valley are “under stress,” Stephen said.
So far in terms of Chilliwack candidates, Wayne Froese (Green) and Ryan McKinnon (independent) have confirmed they will attend, but incumbent MLA John Martin sent his regrets. For Chilliwack-Kent, incumbent MLA Laurie Throness will be in attendance, as will candidate Patti MacAhonic.
Stephen gave an example of how water issues can bubble up for a community, citing the way City of Chilliwack amended its bylaws in response to water bottling companies seeking to draw quantities of fresh water that would have strained the drinking water system.
Population growth, changing precipitation patterns and a recent fish die-off in the Hope Slough may also lead to questions during the meeting.
“The Vedder River, the main source of recharge to the aquifer that supplies Chilliwack’s drinking water, is declining, and glaciers that feed into the system from Washington State remain unmapped,” said Stephen.
The pipeline twinning project looms large as well, since the 63-year old pipeline “runs right across” what is now Chilliwack’s protected groundwater zone, and near Chilliwack and Yarrow wells, he said.
Stephen reiterated the words of Coun. Jason Lum, who in talking about pipeline routing issues at the last Chilliwack council meeting, said: “Maybe there is infrastructure more critical than drinking water, and if there is, I’d be interested to hear what it is.”
Moderators of the meeting will be Shirley Ann Hardman, UFV senior advisor on Indigenous Affairs, and Larry Commodore, a former Soowahlie Chief, and a community advisor to the WaterWealth Project.
Chilliwack/Chilliwack-Kent All-Candidates’ Meeting is on World Water Day, Wednesday March 22, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., at Sto:lo Research and Resource Management Centre, Building 10, 7201 Vedder Rd.
This event is being held on unceded Sto:lo territory. All are welcome.