Of water and fire

Letter to the editor on the importance of water in a time of drought and forest fires.

Dear Editor,

Has anyone noted that the big FOR SALE sign for a property on the way to Kamloops says, as a sales trigger, “Good Water”? Real estate folks have come to know that good, clean water is a highly prized commodity in many people’s minds, and can indeed make or break a sale.

Water is one of the most attractive commodities our community has to offer. This is not, to my knowledge, discussed a great deal, but it should be, as it is important to seniors with health issues, families with children, and even property owners, potential investors, or home buyers. They all take water quality into consideration when choosing a place to live or do business.

Water continues to be one of the biggest concerns across North America, and one of our most precious commodities. The province has issued a drought alert: from level one (watering once a week) to level four: no watering at all! The province has announced fishing closures on many rivers due to high water temperatures and worries about the survival for many species of a most precious resource: our fisheries!

Where does Spences Bridge stand through this crisis? As of this writing, full speed ahead. There are NO cuts to water restrictions: ten hours every other day, and our system seems to be doing fine despite a few businesses and residences watering every day and after 11:00 am, in direct violation of the regulations. The water system uses the time between 11:00 am and 6:00 pm to recover. When watering during those hours, less recovery is inevitable, and can lead to reduced watering hours. It affects the entire town when watering hours are cut, so it is of extreme importance to be diligent. We have water that has never once—despite being tested twice a week—failed a test; water that has never once had a boil alert issued, and I would say (despite some shouts of disgust) that Spences Bridge is very lucky!

Fire protection is also of extreme importance for anyone living in, or wanting to move to, a new town. Recently I had a couple visit the fruit stand. They said they were talking to a Spences Bridge resident, and he said Spences Bridge had no fire protection. The couple then questioned him, because they had heard that we did indeed have fire protection. The couple was then told by this resident that this was a lie.

I find this very disturbing at best, and detrimental to property values at worst, as we most certainly do have fire protection. How many folks in town are telling how many folks that we don’t have fire protection in Spences Bridge? How many of the folks being told this are spreading this “word of mouth” disaster warning around our province and beyond? Would you go look to buy property in a community that has no fire protection? Would you even go there for a visit? This reckless advertising has been going on for some time now, and it not only hurts the image of our beloved community, but may also negatively impact property values.

I also find it disturbing that a letter circulating around town suggests that “most of Spences Bridge was led to believe that the money for our new water works was intended for Murray Creek”. This is simply not true! I went to every meeting when decisions were being made surrounding our water supply. Never was Murray Creek considered an option. In fact, on April 8, 2008 (I can obtain the minutes if anyone would like) there was much discussion over whether the new system should be a joint venture with Cooks Ferry or a standalone. There were 36 locals in attendance along with people from the TNRD, Cooks Ferry, and others. A vote was taken choosing between the two options. The vote was 36 to 0 in favour of the joint system.

An official vote was subsequently taken of the community (a document which many have seen), and the town voted in favour of our new water system. You can try to turn back the clock of democracy, but it is a long, hard road to travel. Many of us voted in favour of our current system; never were we voting on anything to do with Murray Creek.  If you thought so, you were either not at the meetings or not paying attention.

Was it the right vote to make? That’s something each of us has to decide for ourselves; but those folks who were not in the Bridge during those times may need to hear both sides of the story. I am certain many have not. I would welcome any conversation, but as many of you know I was asked to not attend the “Friends of Murray Creek” meetings, as the TNRD was not welcome until a course of action was decided. I have respected this request, but would be happy to speak with anyone who would like clarification.

I love my job; our little place; the farm; and most everything about Spences Bridge. I will always call Spences Bridge home! Paulet and I never imagined a place like this: great history; magical landscape; diverse wildlife; but most of all our friends—incredible!

Our greatest wish is that Spences Bridge becomes a melting pot of family, culture, and creativity, where camaraderie, not conflict, takes centre stage. A community where problems are solved in private, where future plans are made together, and where every day is a good day: because you get to call Spences Bridge HOME!

Steve Rice, Spences Bridge

TNRD Director, Area I

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