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Chilliwack hazardous waste rezoning puts Fraser on top 10 list

The Fraser River near Chilliwack. - Paul J. Henderson
The Fraser River near Chilliwack.
— image credit: Paul J. Henderson

A Chilliwack city council rezoning from last year has led to the addition of the lower Fraser River’s addition to the top 10 endangered rivers in the province for 2014.

The Outdoor Recreation Council (ORC) of British Columbia added the local stretch of the Fraser to its annual list because of a proposed hazardous waste recycling facility planned for a property near the river.

“The proposed location for this facility, which would be built by Aevitas and handle such dangerous materials as PCBs and mercury, is in the midst of the most productive and sensitive part of the Fraser,” said river advocate Mark Angelo in a press release. “If there was to be a spill, a leaching issue, or a major event such as a fire or flood, the river would be inescapably impacted, as would downstream communities.”

A coalition of First Nations, environmental, community and recreational fishing organizations, led by ORC, have filed papers with the B.C. Supreme Court to set aside the city rezoning bylaw that allows for the plant.

Those opposed to the plant have emphasized the need for such a facility, but argue the location—between 100 and 200 metres away from the Fraser River in the Cattermole Lands—is the concern.

The legal challenge is based on what they say was a flawed public process by the City of Chilliwack.

Ongoing gravel extraction, ostensibly for flood protection, is another reason this stretch of the Fraser was added to the list this year.

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