The Williams Lake Indian Band (WLIB) would like to respond to the letter authored by Kim Herdman, titled: Worst possible time for 30-day comment period on rail ties. The letter was featured in the July 13, 2016 issue of the Tribune.
The WLIB was approached by Atlantic Power Williams Lake (APWL) in May of 2015 regarding APWL’s application to burn creosote-treated rail ties in their Williams Lake Plant, which is located within the stewardship area of the WLIB people.
WLIB has Aboriginal rights, including Aboriginal title, within its stewardship area.
Proper management of natural resources has always been vital to the WLIB’s future, as our identity is inherently and deeply connected to them.
We have an obligation to manage, protect and use these resources in a manner that respects and honours our traditions, values, laws and the needs of future generations.
Understandably, WLIB was concerned about the potential impact to our local airshed and the health of our community following APWL’s application to burn creosote-treated rail ties. APWL was proactive in approaching WLIB, and WLIB and APWL did ultimately enter in a protocol agreement to address issues arising from the APWL proposal, and other matters arising out of the operation of the APWL facility.
At the heart of the protocol agreement is a recognition of WLIB’s role in environmental stewardship within its territory. Under the protocol agreement, APWL provided funding for WLIB to hire an environmental consulting firm to fully review the APWL proposal to burn the creosote-treated rail ties.
That consulting firm was one WLIB had confidence in, and one that we feel fully understood our connection to the environment and our culture, history and values.
The independent environmental review addressed points raised from data generated during a ‘trial-burn’ and the subsequent airshed modelling performed by RWDI (APWL’s own environmental consultant), and resulted in extensive discussion and engagement between WLIB and APWL.
We take exception to the portion of Kim Herdman’s letter which states “[APWL] entered into a community agreement with the First Nations Band and money changed hands or will.”
The insinuation in this statement appears to be that by virtue of the fact that APWL provided funding to WLIB that APWL received, or will receive, preferential treatment from WLIB and/or the Province of British Columbia.
The WLIB view our duties as stewards of the land seriously, and we will not under any circumstances accede to activities or projects that are dangerous or cause, or threaten to cause, impacts which cannot be properly mitigated.
We do, however, have respect for the role that APWL and other proponents within our territory play, and for the value and opportunities their businesses provide to the region. We have therefore worked with, and will continue to work with APWL, to ensure that our environmental and other concerns are addressed and that the welfare of our community is protected.
This is the fair and proper balance that we try to preserve when discharging our responsibilities as stewards of our traditional territory.
Williams Lake Indian Band Councillor