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

Heritage Surrey launches time-lapse mapping tool

It matches local historical images to modern-day locations

UPDATE: Delta man charged in stabbing of woman, off-duty cop outside North Delta elementary school

Manoj George, 49, is facing two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of assault with a weapon after the incident on Wednesday, Feb. 20.

Surrey RCMP asks for public’s help finding missing 52-year-old

Police say William Michaels last seen on Feb. 19

Private school for hockey players pitched for Surrey’s Excellent Ice arena

Lark Group draws up expansion plan for facility built and operated by the Surrey company since 1999

From a drunk judge to Clifford Olson: George Garrett recounts a life in B.C. news radio

New book from ‘Intrepid Reporter’ George Garrett offers readers a glimpse behind the headlines

Sell regulated heroin to curb B.C.’s overdose problem: report

B.C. Centre on Substance Use points to organized crime and money-laundering as contributing factors

Galchenyuk scores in OT as Coyotes edge Canucks 3-2

Vancouver manages single point as NHL playoff chase continues

B.C. legislature moving suspended staff controversy to outside review

Whale watching, Seattle Mariners trips billed as emergency preparedness, Speaker Darryl Plecas says

Two boys saved after falling through ice in Coquitlam

RCMP say a Good Samaritan pulled the kids to safety

More people signing up for compulsory vaccines

Maple Ridge mom says public tired of hearing about measles

Why do zebras have stripes? Perhaps to dazzle away flies

Researchers from University of Bristol look into why zebras have stripes

Poll: More voters believe Canada doing worse under Trudeau government

22 per cent believed the country is doing better and 27 per cent said things are the same

HBC shuttering Home Outfitters across Canada

North America’s oldest retailer is revamping its various stores to improve profitability

BC SPCA investigates Okanagan woman with prior animal abuse convictions

BC SPCA is investigating a property near Vernon

Most Read