So, what's happening? That was the question on many people's lips and on many people's minds at the Open House Wednesday (Feb. 8) at the Adventure Centre dealing with the CN/Cheakamus spill.
Six months after the notorious spilling of caustic soda into the river due to a train derailment, and the killing of nearly every fish in the Cheakamus, many in town were anxious for answers and even more anxious for action.
But neither seemed to be forthcoming at the open house.
Instead of a presentation to the public, those who attended the event were treated to a casual, almost cocktail party atmosphere, and placards detailing the timeline of the accident and what has been done since.
While it was informative to see the timelines in pretty graphics, it was information most who attended knew all too well. Similarly, it was fascinating, if not a tad horrific, to read about how many fish died, and which particular species were most affected, but again, most people interested in the subject of the spill already knew most of the fish were killed when the spill happened.
Walking along and looking at the presentations hanging on the wall, it was interesting to note that six months later, we're still pretty much where we were a few days after the spill. We know it happened, and we know it messed up the Cheakamus pretty badly.
But what is most important to area residents is the plan to fix things.
While the placards detailing what happened to which fish species were frank, sure of the facts and informative, the posters which talked about remediation were more about "considerations" and what may happen.
So what's going to happen now? More meetings, apparently.
At Wednesday's open house, the technical group that has been working on analyzing the effects of the spill, asked local stakeholders to sign up for later meetings to discuss what needs to be done and to lend a hand.
I don't think people want more meetings. The Squamish River Watershed Society (a pretty important stakeholder group, wouldn't you say?) had been invited initially to help in organizing things with the technical group, but was unceremoniously dumped by CN for unclear reasons.
That doesn't bode well for others who want to join the process. Some saw the sign-up sheet and mumbled that it was all lip service.
Granted, to do the job right, there does have to be a clear plan in place, and the will to carry it out quickly.
But half a year later, people are as heated and incensed as ever about the spill.
They don't want meetings or considerations - they want action. They want to see some sleeves rolled up and someone to say "It's going to be okay, we can fix this."
But a leaked report says it will be "generations" before the Cheakamus is back to what it was pre-spill.
In the meantime, we can expect more meetings, more anxiety and further demonization of CN. Unfortunately, those are the real facts.