W̱SÁNEĆ Goldstream Engagement Forum – Jan 10th

Proposed Barrier and Road Widening Project at Goldstream River

LOCATION: Saanich Fairgrounds – Cedar Room / Main Hall

DATE: Wednesday, Jan 10th, 2024

TIME: 5:00 – 8:30 for dinner and discussion

Please Note: Due to a scheduling conflict with another community event. This forum has been postponed from December 13th 2023, to January 10th 2024.

The province have proposed to do road work where the Trans-Canada Highway passes through Goldstream Provincial Park. This project cuts through the most important salmon watershed in W̱SÁNEĆ territory and a W̱SÁNEĆ village site. Both of these things were guaranteed to be protected in the Douglas Treaties. Before the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) start work on the project, they must ensure W̱SÁNEĆ constitutional treaty rights are meaningfully protected and continue to benefit the W̱SÁNEĆ.

MOTI have been engaging W̱SÁNEĆ member First Nations about the proposal for a 2.5km section of road through Goldstream Park over the past couple years. Their plan is to widen the highway, install a median barrier, improve access to Finlayson arm, work on trails next to the river, connect Goldstream trails to other trails, and install a pedestrian crossing over the highway and river and an additional crossing under the highway near Niagara Creek. Part of the highway project plan is to blast rock, install retaining wall structures, a cantilever structure, and an enclosed drainage system with oil/water spill collection and separation devices near the Finlayson Arm Road intersection.

The project may increase road safety and public access, and the ability to recover pollutants in the event of another spill. It may also have impacts on the Goldstream River which supports chum, coho and chinook salmon fisheries. Because the project may affect the ongoing practice of W̱SÁNEĆ rights including fishing, food gathering, holding ceremonial gatherings, and exercising stewardship responsibilities over the short and long term, the W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council (WLC) would like to get input from W̱SÁNEĆ people on the project.

WLC hosted an Engagement Forum on October 18 to present information and get input from W̱SÁNEĆ people on the provincial government’s proposal. The Forum was attended by over eighty people; of those about twenty were there as presenters and UBC/UVic student observers who are doing related research with the WLC. Forum participants were provided presentations about the proposed project, that included the WLC engagement processes and activities, risks posed by blasting, a Goldstream river assessment and restoration needs, and the history of the area and W̱SÁNEĆ laws that are applicable for this location.

Some community members were able to bring forward concerns or questions to the presenters, but because we ran out of time we are planning a second Forum. WLC recorded the proceedings – the recording is available to W̱SÁNEĆ people, along with a digital version of the survey, on a password protected W̱SÁNEĆ members page on the WLC website. Click here to view the video or fill out the digital survey.

The video includes these Presentations:

· Project Proposal – Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI)

· Technical – WLC Referrals, Lorax Environmental Services, Goldstream Hatchery

· Historic Use Presentation – Trailmark and UBC

· W̱SÁNEĆ Laws – YELḰATŦE (Robert Clifford), J,SINTEN (John Elliott), W̱IĆKINEM (Eric Pelkey)

· Open Floor – Participant Questions to Presenters

At the next Forum on Wednesday January 10, less time will be allocated to presentations – our focus will be on listening and answering questions. We value input from W̱SÁNEĆ members about the proposed road work and will ensure that feedback is communicated to W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council Board members and to member First Nation Chiefs and Councils.

The survey will be available for Forum participants to share their thoughts on the proposed project – in hard copy and online on the password protected website. As with the October Forum, we plan to record the event and make it available on a password protected W̱SÁNEĆ members page on the WLC website, so W̱SÁNEĆ community members who are not able to attend can also provide input.

Salmon Run at Goldstream, November 2022 – QENTOL,YEN photo

We hope to see you at the Fairground for the Goldstream Forum on January 10 – your input is important.