The City of White Rock is taking steps to formalize its relationship with Semiahmoo First Nation – which has largely been based on unwritten agreements in the past.
Council has adopted a staff recommendation, presented at the May 9 meeting, that advocates action on a number of issues, including negotiating a service agreement for the bulk water supply and sanitary sewer services currently provided to SFN.
Other issues include turning the keys of the public washrooms at Semiahmoo Park over to SFN, so that it can decide the future of the facility, and to negotiate a communications protocol for use during emergency events.
The city also plans to remove the White Rock sign that has long been located on SFN land near the foot of Stayte Road and to start maintenance and restoration work for the Grand Chief Bernard Charles Plaza, site of the totems from the RCMP-sponsored The Gift project, which is on city property on East Beach.
City manager Dan Bottrill told Peace Arch News he feels it is timely to resolve items of unfinished business of interest to both the city and SFN, while emphasizing that he feels both parties have “a good working relationship.”
“We’ve never had an agreement with them for sanitary sewer service and now that we have taken on water services, having a service agreement for both facilities makes a lot of sense to me,” he said.
Establishing a communications protocol would also makes sense, said Bottrill, who noted to council when the recommendations were introduced that the city has similar protocols in place with its other neighbours, including Surrey.
Bottrill said there has been a significant reduction in the use of the public washroom since the SFN fenced its borders in 2011.
“It’s a washroom at the end of its useful life,” he said, adding that the future of the facility should be a matter for SFN to decide and that he doesn’t believe maintaining the washrooms has been a “significant” cost to the city in the past.
The White Rock sign has also deteriorated to the point that it should be replaced, Bottrill said, and this, logically should be on city property.
He said the city “may have overlooked’ the need for maintenance of some of the granite work at the plaza, which is a city responsibility.
“We’d like to move as quickly as we can on that,” he said.