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Friends of the Slough in Chilliwack push for restoration

Many who showed up to the Friends of the Slough meeting dream of seeing the Rosedale Canoe Races resurrected one day
The solid turnout of about 30 people was heartening to see for organizers Lina Azeez of Watershed Salmon Watch and Roxanna Froese of SOS Save our Slough

One goal of the newly formed Friends of the Slough is to see a resurrection of the old Rosedale Canoe Races.

Those historic races on the slough were emblematic of a time when local Hope-Camp slough system was more pristine, and ideal for recreational uses.

More than 30 people showed up to the inaugural Friends of the Hope-Camp Slough meeting Jan. 31, hosted at Sto:lo Nation.

The solid turnout was heartening to see for organizers Lina Azeez of Watershed Salmon Watch and Roxanna Froese of SOS Save our Slough, as they try to channel community support for restoration of the local waterways, like the Hope and Camp Slough systems.

"We expected maybe 15 or so land owners who live on the slough to show up," said Azeez, adding they were thrilled with the diverse representation and interest shown from from neighbours, scientists, and recreational anglers, to First Nations and paddling enthusiasts and more.

There was an almost wistful sense of loss, expressed by many around the table, now that the sloughs are almost stagnant, and overgrown with canary grass.

Some attendees spoke nostalgically about a time when the Hope and Camp Sloughs had fresh water flowing and lots of fish spawning, she said.

That's why the idea to bring back the canoe races was so popular.

"Our hope going from here is to organize people on various committees to further this work," said Roxanna Froese of SOS.

One of the ideas is to organize a canoe slough tour in April.

Coun. Sam Waddington said it was "really neat" to see such a diverse crowd show up, with historical knowledge shared about the waterways.

And if there is strong enough support, the expensive slough cleanup could be achieved down the line, said Waddington, but it would be more likely if more senior levels of government come to the table.

The consensus at the meeting was that slough restoration was a multifaceted dream of many in the community.

"It showed the community support and desire for restoration is there," he said.

Jennifer Feinberg

About the Author: Jennifer Feinberg

I have been a Chilliwack Progress reporter for 20+ years, covering the arts, city hall, as well as Indigenous, and climate change stories.
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