Semiahmoo First Nation councillor Joanne Charles blesses White Rock city council at its inaugural meeting in 2014.

EDITORIAL: A city in turbulence

It’s high time communicating becomes top of mind, not merely an afterthought.

Semiahmoo First Nation councillor Joanne Charles – addressing what she says is formal notice by the City of White Rock to terminate water and sanitary-sewer services to her reserve – says the nature of the city’s relationship with the First Nation has deteriorated in recent years.

Indeed, many things seem to be changing in White Rock, and it’s not simply the water issue. Whatever’s going on behind closed doors – whether at city hall, on native land or in private residences – there’s evidence of a growing animosity between civic leaders and their critics.

For some residents and business owners, conflict began not long after the 2014 election, when council decided in-camera to abandon solid-waste management for multifamily residences, yet announced it as a decision to “privatize” recycling and garbage collection… without mentioning that taxpayers would be required to find their own providers.

For others, it was elected officials’ seeming determination in the ensuing months to bypass the city’s official community plan when determining where highrise development should be concentrated, under the misplaced notion that the city was required by provincial law to provide housing for an additional 7,000 residents by 2040.

The water supply to Semiahmoo First Nation, it should be noted, is only the most recent water issue to pop up since the city announced one year ago its purchase of the water utility from Epcor. Arsenic and manganese levels, the limited amount of water available (deemed inadequate in the wake of the Five Corners fire) and the undetermined utility purchase price have all been called into question by the city’s most vociferous critics.

City leaders, it should be noted, have stood by their decisions. Regarding Semiahmoo First Nation’s allegations last week that the city announced Aug. 29 that it would shut off the reserve’s water, Mayor Wayne Baldwin says the letter advised them that is one possible outcome, if the two parties can’t come to an agreement.

As well, Semiahmoo First Nation have a history of not being accessible to discuss issues with their own neighbours, most notably recently in allowing the operation of a helicopter-tour company on its park, to the chagrin of others residing not far from the waterfront.

So much conflict in such a short time period. And, if history repeats itself, city officials will eventually announce – all too dismissively – that communications could have been handled better.

It’s high time communicating becomes top of mind for all involved, not merely an afterthought.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Seven youths from Surrey/White Rock were recognized at Thursday’s SASSY Awards. Top row from left: Joon Sohn, Samuel Albert, Sherry Sandhu and Abbie Dubet; bottom row from left: Amberlee Moore, Kristen Ricord, Anna McNicholl. (Contributed photo)
Seven Surrey/White Rock youth honoured at SASSY Awards

Annual event held virtually this year due to COVID-19 pandemic

A Mercedes SUV is covered at a gas station in the Clayton area following a deadly shooting there on Sept. 28, 2019. (File photo)
Thomas Dawson Peacock
Surrey man, 32, charged with sexual interference

Incidents alleged to have happened in Surrey and Abbotsford

The number of new COVID-19 cases has risen sharply in Vancouver and the Fraser North region over the last week.
Chart: Tyler Olsen
CHARTS: Weekly COVID-19 case double in Fraser North health area, up 50% in Vancouver

The number of new COVID-19 cases has risen sharply in Vancouver and the Fraser North region.

Over the years, Janice Blackie-Goodine’s home in Summerland has featured elaborate Halloween displays and decorations each October. (File photo)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about Halloween?

Oct. 31 is a night of frights. How much do you know about Halloween customs and traditions?

FILE - In this Jan. 23, 1987 file photo, actor Sean Connery holds a rose in his hand as he talks about his new movie “The Name of the Rose” at a news conference in London. Scottish actor Sean Connery, considered by many to have been the best James Bond, has died aged 90, according to an announcement from his family. (AP Photo/Gerald Penny, File)
Actor Sean Connery, the ‘original’ James Bond, dies at 90

Oscar-winner was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

This house at 414 Royal Ave. became notorious for its residents’ and visitors’ penchant for attracting police. It was also the site of a gruesome torture in August 2018. It was demolished in 2019. KTW
6-year sentence for Kamloops man who helped carve ‘rat’ into flesh of fellow gang member

Ricky Dennis was one of three men involved in the August 2018 attack

Among the pumpkin carvings created this year by Rick Chong of Abbotsford is this tribute to fallen officer Cont. Allan Young.
Abbotsford pumpkin carver’s creations include fallen police officer

Rick Chong carves and displays 30 pumpkins every year

An online fundraising campaign in support of the six-year-old boy, Edgar Colby, who was hit by a car on Range Road Oct. 25 has raised more than $62,000 in a day. (Submitted)
$62K raised in 1 day for boy in coma at BC Children’s after being hit by vehicle in Yukon

The boy’s aunt says the family is “very grateful” for the support they’ve received from the community

The Excelsior 4 are set to make their second court appearance in Abbotsford on Monday (Nov. 2). (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
‘Excelsior 4’: Animal activists set to enter not guilty plea in Abbotsford hog farm case

Animal rights activists expected to plead not guilty to charges, protest for Vancouver scheduled

Dennis Cholowski shows off a Jordan 2 Retro Just Don Blue sneaker, the type of shoe only a true sneakerhead would appreciate. (Facebook photo)
VIDEO: Chilliwack Chiefs alum Dennis Cholowski shows off ‘sneakerhead’ collection

The Detroit Red Wing has been spending his NHL paycheques building up an impressive closet of shoes

Most Read