shíshálh Nation applying to DMAF for water reservoir funding
September 21, 2023
By Jordan Copp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
In order to address the growing water shortage on the Sunshine Coast, shíshálh Nation is applying for provincial funding in order to create a small reservoir, which should funding come through, could be operating by the end of 2024.
In May, the Nation proposed the construction of two reservoirs intended for large-scale water storage.
Originally, both reservoir proposals requested federal funding.
While the application through the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund is still under way, the Nation is now asking for additional funding, specifically for the smaller reservoir through the provincial government. If funding is received for the smaller reservoir, work would start immediately so that water can be collected over the coming winter, said a shíshálh Nation spokesperson.
The other three local governments on the Coast – District of Sechelt, Town of Gibsons and Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) – are supporting the Nation’s reservoir plan, said a recent press release from the Nation.
In the release lhe hiwus yalxwemult (Chief Lenora Joe) said, “Water is an essential resource; we all need it to survive. Our ancestors instilled in our community to be protectors of the water and stewards of the land. What was once a water challenge is now a water crisis, causing anxiety and fear in our members and residents of the Sunshine Coast. This is more of a human issue than a business initiative, and we must address it now; the new reservoir is an essential part of the solution.”
shíshálh Nation recently released a video highlighting their reservoir project and the recent support they have received from local municipalities.
Leonard Lee, chair of the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) Board said, “shíshálh Nation, Sunshine Coast Regional District, District of Sechelt, and Town of Gibsons are known for innovative solutions and unwavering support for our community with quality long-term Solutions,” in the press release.
The smaller reservoir would be on the Heidelberg Materials mine site, where it will have minimal new impacts on the environment, according to the press release.
“It is vitally important that we, on the Sunshine Coast, expand our water supply infrastructure – the situation is urgent, and we need short and long-term solutions,” said Mayor John Henderson in the Nation’s press release. “The good news is that practical and attainable solutions exist and that the four local governments are working together.”
In the Nation’s press release, Mayor Silas White said, “We need tangible and immediate solutions to this ongoing water crisis. Using an existing mine site is a tremendous opportunity for the Sunshine Coast.”
Next week, shíshálh Chief and Council, as well as representatives from the District of Sechelt, Sunshine Coast Regional District and Town of Gibsons, will attend the Union of BC Municipalities convention and plan to meet with provincial and federal government officials to discuss the reservoir plan.
Jordan Copp is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for the Coast Reporter.
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