The street outside the TNRD office became the location today for a protest against the storage and use of biosolids in the Nicola Valley.
About 40 protesters carried placards that said Science Says No to Sewage Sludge, Respect First Nations Moratorium and Bye Bye Jackie — the latter an apparent reference to Fraser-Nicola MLA Jackie Tegart — and chanted and mingled on the street in the 500 block Victoria Street for several hours as RCMP and passersby watched.
MLA Tegart has been under fire for not taking a strong enough stand on the biosolids issue. Kamloops MLAs Terry Lake and Todd Stone stopped to talk with the protesters Friday.
TNRD board directors encountered the protest rally as we walked from the Civic Building, where we’d been holding a Committee of the Whole meeting all morning, to an informal luncheon with Lake and Stone in the Hotel 540.
Chief Aaron Sam of the Lower Nicola Band, one of the main organizers of the rally, introduced himself to me and I enjoyed talking with him for a couple of minutes. I also spoke with Kamloops environmentalist Ruth Madsen, who is involved in the Blackwell Dairy biosolids issue.
The rally was lively, but I commend the protesters for keeping everything respectful and non-confrontational, focusing on the message and handing out information leaflets to residents walking by.
Earlier this week, Tegart and B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak announced the provincial government will establish a technical working group to conduct a scientific review of the use of biosolids in the Nicola Valley.
The review will focus on developing a monitoring and testing regime for biosolids, reviewing the effectiveness of the current requirement for a land application plan, and reviewing research on how biosolids impact wildlife and determine if any monitoring or testing is required.
The working group will include staff from the ministry, First Nations Health Authority and Interior Health Authority. An advisory committee will oversee the working group.