A controversial riverfront development that Maple Ridge city council approved despite objections from local conservation groups has been rejected by the provincial government.
Katzie First Nation also opposed the 26-home subdivision on the banks of the Alouette River, at 240th Street, and these opponents were glad to see the province turn it down.
When the Katzie had learned the project was close to approval by the council, they contacted the city and asked for consultation, but were denied. The First Nation accused the city of bad faith engagement. Once the city gave final approval to the development in June, the Katzie said they would take their case to the provincial government.
“We have previously raised many significant concerns about this proposed project, including the impacts it would have to the rights and title in such areas as flood management, fish habitat,” said a statement this week signed by Chief Grace George and her council.
The letter said the Katzie’s rights are severely impacted by the Alouette Dam, and noted the First Nation is in talks with BC Hydro and various government ministries about mitigating these impacts, “including a return of conservation flows to the Alouette River and the possibility of removing the Alouette Dam entirely.”
“Development proposals like this also threaten to further impact our rights under the provincial Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, including our rights to conserve and protect the environment within our unceded territory,” said the Katzie statement. “The Alouette River as a part of our traditional territory was handed down to us from our ancestors. Reconciliation requires action, and restoring our river flows in the Alouette is a big part of this. With our salmon in a state of crisis, we cannot continue to make the same mistakes of past, and must move forward in a good way for the benefit of our fish family, and our future generations.”
The Alouette River Management Society (ARMS) had opposed the project, saying it would negatively impact the river and the environment.
“At ARMS, we’ve always been concerned around the factual information around this development, in areas of conservation and flooding,” said president Ken Stewart, adding those concerns weren’t taken seriously by council.
“We’ve said all along they didn’t properly research the project, and didn’t take seriously our research.”
According to the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, Trisand Properties submitted an application to the province on Feb. 20, 2019 for permission to work in and about a stream. It proposed to infill a portion of Latimer Creek, a tributary of the Alouette, and construct a channel within the alignment of existing ponds and associated riparian habitat as compensation for impacts to habitat.
On Sept. 2, the application was refused by the Province.
The province’s decision to refuse the approval is subject to appeal, and the proponent may also re-apply for a new approval to work in and about a stream in the future.
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