Kelowna protest over sewage waste may escalate
WEST KELOWNA – Saturday marked day four of a protest at Premier Christy Clark’s constituency office in West Kelowna. The demonstration began last Wednesday when a handful of native chiefs from the Nicola Valley occupied the office to take a stand against bio-solid sewage waste being trucked from the Okanagan to land near Merritt.
On Saturday a rally was held outside Clark’s office bringing out close to 100 demonstrators, many of them from first nations communities. Among them, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, the President of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs.
“It’s absolutely wrong,” says Phillips. “Hauling sewage from one municipality to remote parts of the province is not safe, it’s not an environmentally sound policy and that is what we need to look at is what legislative authority do they have to do this.”
The demonstrators are calling for a moratorium on the shipments of the bio-solids until a resolution can be found. Despite the ongoing occupation of Clark’s office, the Government has had little reaction other than some dialogue with the protestors which went nowhere.
Frustrated with the Government’s lack of response, the demonstrators say they may be forced to escalate their action.
“We are requesting the Minister of Environment Mary Polak to contact us to begin discussions regarding the current bio-solids protest in the Nicola Valley, ” says Georgia Clement with the Friends of Nicola Valley. “These discussions can be without demands from either side with the ultimate goal of a resolution to the current unrest in the Nicola Valley. There is immediate concern if this issue of bio-solids is not resolved there will be a significant escalation of the unrest.”
While the demonstrators vow to escalate the protest, they stop short of explaining what that escalation would look like.
On Thursday, Minister of Environment Mary Polak said her door is always open for dialogue but that the occupation must first come to an end.