The provincial government has decided to decommission the Providence Dam at Marshall Lake near Greenwood by Oct. 15.
John Greaves, an organizer with the Marshall Lake Stewardship Group, pointed out that there is still some time left to let the government know there are people opposed to the draining of the lake.
“There is a lot of local talk about it but I do not know how much the government actually hears,” he said. “I am very upset and I feel that we, the locally concerned people, have been totally ignored by our provincial representatives. Yes I did receive a form letter reply from Minister Steve Thomson (Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources Operation or MFLNRO) but that was all.”
Greaves noted that the letter reiterated what previous ministry staff stated, which included how the dam was dangerous.
Despite garnering support from local organizations, surrounding cities and a growing list of names on a petition, Christopher Stevenson, the creator of Marshall Lake Stewardship Group, said they are still trying to increase public awareness and to gain support.
“We’re very upset that they’re proceeding with this,” he said. “We’re looking for letters from various groups about the importance of the lake to them.”
A recent campaign from the group includes photography of the lake, titled with encouraging words of how to support the maintenance of the lake and surrounding property.
“We’re appealing to everyone we can to try and get support and raise public awareness,” Stevenson said. “Until this point, the government has shown absolutely no interest or any sign that they’re willing to meet up on this. It’s discouraging but it’s not done yet and there are discussions about people camping out at the site.”
Boundary-Similkameen MLA John Slater was unavailable to comment due to a family emergency.
Thomson and the MFLNRO did not respond in time for press.
NDP candidate for the Boundary-Similkameen Marji Basso recently visited Marshall Lake.
“Marshall Lake was brought to my attention in late spring,” she noted. “My personal concerns are several: if the dam was deemed by the province to be unsafe and no longer fit in their category to remain responsible for the liability, why were they negligent in doing their regular annual inspections since 2004?”
Basso’s questioned the provincial government’s stance regarding environmental matters in the Boundary area after her visit.
“The local groups need to be applauded by their communities for their selfless dedication and commitment to protect our local environment,” she said. “Perhaps more importantly, in a democratic country such as ours, they deserve the right to not only to be heard, but to have an open dialogue and collaborate with those we elect, to collectively create viable solutions for a better Boundary and a better B.C.”
Stevenson would like to encourage people to sign the petition and to write, call or email local MLA Slater, Minister Steve Thomson or the premier’s office.
“It’s the 11th hour, and if people care about the lake, it’s time to raise your voice,” he concluded.
The Marshall Lake Stewardship Group currently has support from the City of Grand Forks, the City of Greenwood and the Village of Midway, and various local organizations.
For more information or to sign the petition, visit the group’s Facebook page at facebook.com/groups/marshalllake.