It has been just under two years since our lives were forever changed.
On July 7, 2017 the Elephant Hill wildﬁre roared through our valley, raging in the strong wind that drove it rapidly across the land. Everyone in our small communities of Boston Flats and Coyote Valley were affected in one way or another. Some people lost everything, some homes were spared, while others burned to the ground. I have heard that 48 homes in total were lost within our communities, as well as 12 homes on the Ashcroft Indian Band. One neighbour lost their dairy barn and many other things. The ﬁre burned through my yard and burned our pigs alive. My home was saved by my husband and his excavator.
July 7 started out like any other day, but it quickly became horrifying. I packed my house in 20 minutes thinking that I would never see it again when I evacuated. I was told that my house burned to the ground, as all of Boston Flats was gone. I was frozen with fear for my family. There was a communication blackout in Ashcroft because of the ﬁre burning communication towers as well as the power and telephone lines. I had no way of knowing if my family was safe. It was four hours before I heard that they were safe and that my house had been saved.
Those four hours have forever changed me. I can’t even explain my fear, my emotions during that time. The stress on our communities didn’t end that day. There were no amenities, our water systems didn’t work with no power, our outside irrigation source was burned, our livestock was either dead or traumatized, neighbours needed help, animals needed to be taken to safety, people were evacuated, essentials were needed but stores were closed. It took five days to find my one son a change of clothes.
Our communities pulled together, neighbours helped neighbours. We provided a safe haven for many animals whose homes were still threatened by the ﬁre as it continued to rage north of us for months.
It is hard for people who didn’t experience the Elephant Hill wildﬁre to understand everything that people suffered through. After the ﬁre there was the clean-up, the fights with insurance companies, the ash storms, the reporters, the rebuilding, the black hills. I was afraid to leave my house unattended because I worried that it wouldn’t be there when I returned. Then as a result of the ﬁre there were the floods, which caused many of the people in our communities more stress and property damage. Oh, and I almost forgot, there was a rash of robberies in our area which had everyone freaked out.
Needless to say, the last two years have been intensely stressful, life-changing, and extremely difficult for Boston Flats and Coyote Valley residents. When I received the letter stating that the TNRD was proposing to put an Eco-Depot next to my property I called them immediately to ask what the heck an Eco-Depot even is.
I can’t believe that anyone would propose putting an Eco-Depot next to my property. We have suffered through enough. I have lived in my home for almost 21 years. It was built in 1898 and has stood sentinel over this beautiful valley for 121 years. It would be devastating to have an Eco-Depot put next door to us.
Please find another site and leave us alone. We have already been through enough. We are fighters who have survived natural disasters. We pull together when we need to and help one another whenever we can, so we will fight to keep this Eco-Depot away from our homes.
Please don’t make us fight. Please leave us alone to heal our communities. Find a site for the Eco-Depot that doesn’t affect anyone, or the environment, negatively.
Boston Flats, B.C.
The communities of Boston Flats and Coyote Valley feel the need to clear up the lack of information regarding the Eco-Depot proposed at Boston Flats.
This proposal is for more than just recycling. There will be old appliances, tires, yard waste, paint, chemicals, mattresses metal piles, drywall, batteries, and of course household garbage. The site will look very much like our current site but will be much larger. This will be visible from all directions when travelling Highway 1 or 97C. We do not feel this is a good way to represent the entrance to beautiful Ashcroft.
Here are our main concerns:
– Major rain or wind events washing or blowing garbage or chemicals into the Bonaparte River.
– Polluting the natural springs due to spills or seepage that run from this property and flow into the Bonaparte River.
– Decreased home values. Our local real estate agent agrees this will affect our home values.
– How often will the garbage and waste be removed?
– Who will clean up the debris that blows all over Boston Flats, Coyote Valley, and into the Bonaparte River?
– Why rezone such visible farmland for garbage? Why rezone farmland at all?
– What other sites have been discussed?
– Will this proposal affect the taxes of the TNRD or Ashcroft and Cache Creek residents?
– There will be decreased air quality due to increased dust and stench. Dust control is only proposed during construction. What about after construction? Increased traffic equals increased dust.
– Increased traffic at a dangerous intersection.
We as a community have come up with a few possible solutions:
– Use the airport road. It is already paved and has a large non-visible land mass waiting. Also, the TNRD already owns the site.
– Give Ashcroft and Cache Creek back their recycle bins and have them manned and open only on certain days. This will keep costs low.
– Utilize the public works yards for recycling. They are fenced, and locked at night.
– Pick up recycling with weekly garbage pick-up.
These are just a few suggestions from our local people. At least we are trying to find a solution that works for everyone. We have to wonder if our mayors and the TNRD are doing the same.
Although Mr. Vieira [TNRD Environmental Services Manager] did address our concerns, his lack of depth or documentation left us all feeling frustrated and dismissed.
There is not one resident of Boston Flats or Coyote Valley who approves of this location for an Eco-Depot. We have all invested in these communities for their beauty and rural living. We have built farms, businesses, friends, and most importantly families here. Surely there is a more suitable space that will not affect our environment, residents, businesses, and farmers.
We do understand the difficult task the TNRD has when trying to locate an Eco-Depot that works for everyone. We strongly feel that the front door to Ashcroft and Cache Creek is not the right location.
Gord and Corry Fehr
Boston Flats. B.C.