June 19, 2015 - 1:15 PM
KAMLOOPS – Protestors shut down Victoria Street in downtown Kamloops today as they rallied against a biosolids operation near Merritt.
Members of Friends of the Nicola Valley picked the location for the protest, June 19, because Health Minister Terry Lake and MLA Jackie Tegart were meeting at the Thompson-Nicola Regional District office nearby.
The protestors are concerned the biosolids — treated human waste — being dumped near their homes pose a risk to the environment and their health. While Interior Health has said sewage sludge is unlikely to cause illness, the protesters disagree.
Georgia Clement with the Friends of Nicola Valley led the protest with a megaphone.
“We are here opposing the land application of biosolids in the Nicola Valley,” she says.
Her group is asking the Health Minister to consider alternative locations for the biosolid dumping and asked repeatedly for an audience with Lake.
“I think it shows (the province) is ignoring the moratorium for First Nations,” Clement says.
Lower Nicola Indian Band Chief Aaron Sam wants the minister to know the province’s actions are not acceptable, adding his community is reliant on healthy water and soil, and biosolids put that in jeopardy.
“They apply the biosolids to the land and they haven’t consulted first nations at all," he says.
Lake came to meet with protesters where he told Clement the government would conduct a scientific review.
She says the science is already available to the government and the public.
“(I asked) whether or not he would promise to do something else with land application of biosolids and he indicated he would.” Clement says, noting this was her first meeting the minister. “I do appreciate that he came over on his own accord and met with us on the street.”
Sam says it’s a provincial matter.
“It’s important to get our message outside of Merritt,” he says.
Sam wants the minister to know while today's demonstration would come to end, the opposition wasn’t going anywhere. He hopes to negotiate with the province to come to a solution everyone can accept.
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— This story was updated 1:56 p.m., June 19, 2015 to incude an exchange between Clements and Lake.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015