PRESS RELEASE: District of Squamish and Squamish Nation Councils aligned on new dike placement and begin work on next steps

SQUAMISH, B.C. – The District of Squamish and Squamish Nation Councils are proceeding with next steps after the Councils each recently endorsed a new dike alignment between the Siyich’em Reserve and Íkwikws Reserve in Brackendale, encompassing the area from the eagle viewing dike at Government Road to the existing dike at Fisherman’s Park. After reviewing three scenarios, the Councils each endorsed the same preferred dike alignment, and expressed support for advancing the Dike Master Plan on that basis.

The endorsed option entails constructing the dike on a new alignment heading northwest from Siyich’em Reserve, set back 30 metres from the active Squamish River bank, and connecting to the existing dike at Fisherman’s Park. This approach would enable the recapture of lost reserve lands for the Squamish Nation. While the new dike alignment would partially disconnect a large, forested gravel bar island from the Squamish River, partial connection could be maintained via a fish-friendly pump station at the outlet of Jimmy Jimmy (Judd) Slough. As part of a separate ongoing project the District and Squamish Nation are also planning to reconnect the upper end of Jimmy Jimmy (Judd) Slough with the Squamish River with a new culvert and gate system to improve water quality and aquatic habitat in the slough.

“As a Nation, we have learned that dike alignment can have a severe impact on our community spanning generations, so the decision to move forward with the preferred alignment is a significant one. We are balancing the need to protect the entire community residing on our territory, while also ensuring the interests of the Nation are in the forefront,” said Orene Askew, Squamish Nation Councillor and spokesperson. “Though the selected option does not recapture all of the original reserve area, it does allow us the opportunity to recover some of the land lost. With the support of the District of Squamish and Council, as well as the larger community who supported this option through the process, we are one step closer to correcting a past wrong. This is difficult but important work we are undertaking as project partners with the District of Squamish.”

Further work to evaluate the feasibility of this option must now take place, and will include developing and evaluating the chosen option in further detail, refining cost estimates and completing community engagement. The new dike alignment will also require approval from Fisheries and Oceans Canada as well as provincial agencies.

“While there is still a long way to go, I am really proud of the work accomplished so far. From the beginning, we wanted to work in partnership with Squamish Nation to select the consultant, develop decision-making criteria and identify possible solutions. I am pleased that both Councils have endorsed a dike alignment that meets the goals of the District’s Integrated Flood Hazard Management Plan to better protect citizens and infrastructure with the added benefit of being able to reclaim lost reserve land,” says District of Squamish Mayor Karen Elliott. “Certainly, there will be some hurdles to overcome with the chosen option, but this is the right option to explore in the spirit of reconciliation and building community resiliency.”

Further work to evaluate the chosen option involves:
• Geotechnical drilling investigation along the new dike alignment to evaluate seismic stability and other geotechnical considerations.
• Stormwater study to determine the size and function of the future pump station at the slough outlet and any other required drainage modifications to facilitate this option.
• Developing detailed drawings in order to further engage with regulators to determine whether the project can receive permitting (DFO, MFLNRORD).
• Discussions between Squamish Nation and District of Squamish to secure access rights for ongoing dike maintenance purposes.

Determining the new dike alignment is a required step prior to seeking adoption of the Siyich’em Reserve/ Eagle Viewing Area Dike Master Plan.

Further information, including a link to the Report to District of Squamish Council that outlines all three dike options considered, is available on the project page: https://squamish.ca/eaglesiyichemdike/

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Media Contact:
Rachel Boguski, Communications Coordinator
District of Squamish | Hardwired for Adventure
604.815.4967
rboguski@squamish.ca
www.squamish.ca

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