Harrison council divided on gravel removal

HHS and Kent both give support to Seabird's request

Harrison Hot Springs council is giving its support to the Seabird Island band’s hope to remove gravel from the Fraser River.

The band’s community development manager, Brian Jones, has requested support from surrounding communities in seeking to have gravel removed from an area that was approved in 2007.

Last year’s application for removal was submitted too late, and none was removed, Jones wrote in a letter to councils.

They are hoping to remove between 60,000 to 70,000 cubic metres, in an effort to preserve the reserve’s boundaries, which are being eroded by the river.

However, two councillors cited concerns by at least one organization. Coun. John Buckley said “it’s undetermined what gravel removal does to salmon” who use the river for spawning.

He echoed concerns by the group Water Wise, adding that they are working with scientists and “are not a just a bunch of people hugging trees.”

Coun. Sonja Reyerse also questioned whether gravel removal is the right option for river management.

“I would be leery to provide a letter of support,” she said.

However, with votes in support from Mayor Leo Facio and councillors Allan Jackson and Zoltan Kiss, the letter of support is being sent.

“I think the people who live and work on the river know what needs to be done,” Jackson said. “Seabird is losing land and Tssawassen is gaining it.”

Harrison, Kent and the surrounding First Nations bands all meet regularly at community to community forums, and gravel removal is a common topic in those meetings, Facio said.

Kent’s CAO Wallace Mah said that council in that community supports gravel removal, due to the land loss evident in areas around this region, including the Skowlitz reserve.

“This protects everybody,” he said.

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