Letters to the Editor

Readers write about challenges facing Spences Bridge and the Ashcroft Terminal working group

Dear Editor,

I read the article about the Spences Bridge charging station (“Battle in Spences Bridge over fate of EV charging station”, the Journal, Oct. 1) with great interest, as it is a piece of a very important puzzle for the community of Spences Bridge; a wonderful place, unlike any other, that our family has called home for the best part of 32 years.

The most disturbing part, and there were many, was the quote from [Spences Bridge Improvement District] trustee Ross Figley. When asked why the sprinkler system had not been turned on [at the former elementary school grounds] in 2019 and 2020, Figley replied “I didn’t feel like turning it on. I have my own stuff to do.”

The greatest source of pride for our community has always been our beautiful “Green Space”. The school and its ground is a special place for many of us. I remember my kids going to the school when we arrived to call Spences Bridge home in 1988. I remember hugging home plate during a fast-pitch ball game and George Billy brushing me back with a windmill fastball that scared the bejeezers out of me. I remember all the Easter Egg hunts with our kids and then our grandkids at the well-manicured, lush green grass of our school yard. I remember the campfire and fireworks of Halloween.

I hope next year’s Desert Daze will have the bighorn sheep visiting our beautiful green grass of home: the school grounds.

Certainly, after losing our Steelhead family, the off-season has become a challenge, especially to the local businesses. Certainly, electric cars need charging year round, and their numbers are increasing at a significant rate. Certainly, it would be in the best interest of the community to find a way to keep our charging station. BC Hydro has agreed, and says that they only need an agreement with the SBID and it can indeed stay.

Spences Bridge has spoken loud and clear. They would like to keep the station. The only thing standing in the way is the three trustees on the Improvement District, and stand in the way they did. By a vote of 2 to 1 they have made the decision for all of Spences Bridge: the charging station has got to go! So, so sad.

As sad as it is, this is not the biggest issue. The biggest issue is family and friends.

For decades our families have had their own “community backyard”: the school grounds. Our kids — now our grandkids, and even a great-grandkid or two — love to come home. Spences Bridge lives within you. It draws you back: the river, the bighorn, the people, the sunshine, the scrumptious fruit and veggies, and yes, the school grounds!

Yes, the charging station is critical to the traveling public who help keep our businesses open, but it takes a back seat to family, friends, and the place they call home: Spences Bridge.

I refer back to the statement of Trustee Figley: “I didn’t feel like turning it on. I have my own stuff to do.” I look at Chair Mike Jefferson, who though he does not live in Spences Bridge, has been the trustee driving the move to get rid of our charging station.

They are elected and paid taxpayer dollars. They have a mandate to represent the wishes of the community, not their own personal agenda; especially an agenda that has a significant impact on our community. This is not about politics: this is about our town, our families, our history and, I would suggest, our future.

The AGM is coming up soon. I would ask the two trustees who voted to have BC Hydro yank our charging station, most likely forever, to do the right thing: step down and call an election.

The grass can still be green, we can replace the dead trees, we can have ball tournaments and put our beautiful school grounds on display to the Trans-Canada Highway audience once again.

Thank you for your service. Now let someone who lives in Spences Bridge and someone who is not too busy to water the lawn make it happen.

Citizens in concern,

Steve and Paulet Rice

Spences Bridge, B.C.

Dear Editor,

In May, Ashcroft Terminal created “a working group to examine issues associated with gate installation and develop alternatives to riverfront access at the slough, located on the Inland Port’s private property.” To be accepted as part of the working group, one had to apply and meet eligibility criteria. Essentially, this meant that all working members were handpicked by Ashcroft Terminal’s management team.

The working group consisted of representatives from elected bodies, employees of the Terminal, and the community at large. Examining the selections carefully, one finds that all selected elected representatives (Bonaparte Indian Band, Village of Ashcroft, Village of Cache Creek) have direct associations with Ashcroft Terminal or Landucci investments as employees, former employees, or business partners.

Add another three employees of the Terminal and the mix is six to three. Not great odds for true community engagement.

Besides the obvious unbalanced weighting in the working group itself, Ashcroft Terminal also brought in a facilitator, an engineering consultant — both paid by Ashcroft Terminal — and representatives from CN and CP, for extra expertise or intimidation, depending on how you look at it. The working group was co-chaired by a member of Ashcroft Terminal’s management team and a former Ashcroft mayor who lobbied hard on Ashcroft Terminal’s behalf when he served as mayor, and worked for the company after retiring.

I would say that the deck was stacked against the community having meaningful consultation even before the process began. But maybe I’m just biased.

Gloria Mertens

Ashcroft, B.C.



editorial@accjournal.ca

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