A couple of years ago, the District and Squamish Nation held a traditional naming ceremony at the canoe shed in Xwu’nekw Park. Coun. Josh Joseph painted a wonderful spoken picture of canoes of visiting First Nations arriving and being welcomed locally. He also spoke of the particular significance of Xwu’nekw to his family who inhabited those shores for time immemorial.
It was the first time that the District was immersed in a traditional naming ceremony; the Nation’s inclusion and open-heartedness was humbling. It was a remarkable day.
“This is a great opportunity to build upon our partnership with the District of Squamish,” Joseph said at the time. “ And provides a stepping stone on our journey toward reconciliation.”
The road to reconciliation is a complex one that goes well beyond naming ceremonies. As the District evolves and builds infrastructure that supports and protects us all, it must be done with absolute consideration of reconciliation for the peoples who have lived here for millennia and the environment that sustained them.
The Integrated Flood Hazard Management Plan envisions a sheet-pile dike along the Blind Channel. It is an excellent engineering-centric strategic action plan that puts Squamish at the forefront of flood planning in the province and is still a seminal document. At the time, the sheet-pile dike was seen as a compromise to allow Blind Channel landowners to realize develop-able lands, and for the District to enable those landowners to build significant sections of the protective dike. The District took some flack at the time for the dike design because it is far from the best design for habitat or erosion mitigation.
Past council had numerous discussions about the dike treatment at Xwu’nekw. Council had directed staff to look at different design options along the lines of “green shores” or perhaps a “living dike” for the District-owned park.
In a recent update and budget funding request to council, these conversations and directions were not reflected. Hopefully, this is just an oversight.
You only get one chance to do this type of infrastructure right. It may be a little more challenging and will require out of the box thinking, but honouring the ancient village and peoples of Xwu’nekw and the green shore living landing and launching site of the past should be foundational in how the District proceeds.
I know this is an issue close to Mayor Karen Elliott and Coun. Eric Andersen’s heart in particular.
It is in council’s hands to make the right decision.