Routine work to clear a ditch at Colony Farm Regional Park appears to have sparked a dispute between the local First Nation and the park's keepers.
On Thursday, Kwikwetlem First Nation Chief Ron Giesbrecht sent off a letter to Metro Vancouver officials expressing his anger over what he considered botched work to clear out a ditch in the park beside the reserve.
In the letter, Giesbrecht noted the band was approached by operations officials from the park to do some work that involved clearing brush from a ditch between the band's office and the park's parking lot.
But the First Nation claimed that excavation work Thursday caused a significant disturbance to the bottom of the creek.
Giesbrecht told the Tri-Cities NOW the concern is for the wildlife in the creek, adding there could be fish spawning in the waterway.
He described the damage as "bad." The letter stated the KFN has contacted both the Provincial Diking Authority to ensure no damage was done to the dike and the department of Fisheries and Oceans out of concern for the habitat.
The chief said he's hoping senior levels of government will come down on Metro Vancouver for not following the correct process.
"They [Metro Vancouver] make their own rules for everybody to follow, but they don't even follow them themselves," he said.
Giesbrecht also argued the work should have been planned better before it began. The KFN is calling on Metro Vancouver to develop a working protocol with the First Nation to outline, plan and review all ongoing and upcoming work at the park.
In response, officials with the regional district said they're aware of the complaint by the KFN, but defended the work in question. Metro Vancouver's acting regional parks director Gudrun Jensen said cleaning ditches along the dike in Colony Farm is regular work, adding field staff do a portion every year to keep the drainage clear in the park. She noted the Kwikwetlem were notified of the project and an environmental consultant was on hand to direct the work.
"As far as I know the work was [done correctly]," Jensen said, adding she wasn't aware of any damage to the park.
However, she said Metro Vancouver would address the concerns in the letter and wants to keep and build a good relationship with the First Nation.
"We'll definitely try to address the concerns, but again this kind of ditching work is regular work an we've been doing it for years," Jensen said.
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