Aboriginal fisheries expert Ernie Crey asks Chilliwack council to hold off on the rezoning until local First Nations can review the proposal for a waste recycling facility by the Fraser River.

Cheam reps say concerns about old landfill not founded

"We check the water quality to make sure it's safe, and have wells near the Hope Slough," Cheam chief says.

Environmental concerns about a proposed waste recycling plant near the Fraser River are not going away.

The matter was a sore spot for some residents and river stewards at Tuesday’s rezoning hearing but the rezoning received unanimous approval by city council.

At the same hearing, the spectre of river pollution was raised by Mayor Sharon Gaetz who said she was interested in talking about the leachate potential of a nearby landfill operation on Cheam First Nations land.

The Aevitas plant will be monitored by both the city and Ministry of Environment, but unregulated facilities are not.

Some called that an attempt to deflect concern away from any risks posed by the waste facility proposal by Aevitas for Cannor Road.

It came up when Cheam band councillor-elect Ernie Crey stood up in council chambers at the public hearing and asked Chilliwack to hold off on rezoning the property on the Cattermole Lands until local First Nations could consider the implications, citing fishery concerns.

Mayor Sharon Gaetz later explained that consultation with First Nations are required for OCP amendment hearings, but not rezonings.

“While I’ve got you here. You referenced the Fraser River, sometime I’d like to talk to you about the landfill and the potential for leachate going into the river,” said Mayor Gaetz to Crey about the Cheam site, adding later on social media that “unregulated” landfills were more of a concern than the Aevitas proposal.

“My offer to talk was genuine. It’s in all of our best interests to ensure there’s no damage to our waterways. “I’m proud of Chilliwack’s environmental record.”

The dump site has been a source of great concern for the communities around it including Chilliwack and Agassiz-Harrison, Gaetz said.

“I hope they do have a leachate system in place. We value the chance to talk frankly and ask questions of our neighbours and I’m looking forward to continued positive relations with Cheam.”

But the concerns about the old landfill are not founded, or may have been out of date, as it has received a clean bill of health, according to Cheam officials.

“The landfill has been closed for over two years now,” said Cheam Chief Sidney Douglas, in a phone interview from Ottawa where he’s attending a national chiefs’ meeting.

“We still monitor it and it’s been sealed off.

“We check the water quality to make sure it’s safe, and have wells near the Hope Slough.”

Monitoring wells also went in around the landfill and a “reputable” environmental consultant firm was engaged by Cheam to monitor the water quality on an ongoing basis.

Chief Douglas would not name the consulting firm.

“We don’t have to report to anyone but we keep our records,” he said, in response to the question about the old landfill being “unregulated.”

jfeinberg@theprogress.com

Twitter.com/chwkjourno

Just Posted

PHOTO: Add flavour to your weekend with the Chilliwack Garlic Festival

The annual garlicky event runs Saturday and Sunday at Fantasy Farms

Fleeing helicopter that landed in Chilliwack part of major cross-border drug bust: documents

The helicopter eventually landed at a rural property near Chilliwack

Vedder Rotary trail network in Chilliwack will be closed for five days on the south side

The upgrade will take until Friday so trail users asked to take alternate routes

Chilliwack encouraged to commemorate liberation of Holland

Planning already underway to mark the 75th anniversary of the event

UPDATE: RCMP confirm body of missing Chilliwack senior found

Ethel ‘Grace’ Baranyk had severe dementia

VIDEO: B.C. woman meets biological mother, 38 years later

Mother never gave up hope of finding daughter, despite all the obstacles

B.C. Lions fall to 1-9 after 13-10 loss to Ticats

Lowly Leos have dropped six straight CFL contests

VIDEO: B.C. woman meets biological mother, 38 years later

Mother never gave up hope of finding daughter, despite all the obstacles

B.C. man who died after rescuing swimmer was known for helping others

Shaun Nugent described as a dad, a coach, a hero and ‘stand-up guy’ at celebration of life

Border crossings across Lower Mainland seeing lengthy delays

Sumas, Peace Arch and Surrey-Blaine border crossings seeing long wait times

Thousands cycle to conquer cancer

The 11th annual Ride to Conquer Cancer took place Saturday morning, Aug. 24 in Surrey, B.C.

PHOTOS: Brazil military begins operations to fight Amazon fires

Amazon fires have become a global issue, escalating tensions between Brazil and European countries

Racist confrontation in Richmond parking lot caught on camera

Woman can be heard yelling racial slurs, swear words at woman in apparent parking dispute

Groups ready campaign to help young voters identify ‘fake news’ in election

The media literacy campaign to focus on identifying misinformation and suspicious sources online

Most Read