On Wednesday, April 20 about 100 Lytton and area residents—natives and non-natives—held a rally with slogans such as “Everything is Connected Respect Botanie” and “Together We Are Strong”.
The friendly community event showed solidarity on the issuing of Bylaw 2016-01 that Lytton First Nation (LFN) recently passed, and highlighted how developments in the Botanie Valley are adversely affecting Aboriginal Rights and Title by causing a nuisance.
A traditional prayer opened the event. It was followed by comments from Grand Chief Bob Pasco, LFN Chief Janet Webster, and councilor Debbie Abbot. LFN administrator Dr. Rosalin Miles explained the details of the bylaw and the purpose of the gathering. A barbecued sockeye salmon luncheon followed the presentations.
The bylaw requires commercial trucks of more than 9,100 kg GVW to obtain a permit from the band before driving through their reserves. Miles has tackled the complicated issue that involves a private company that operates a commercial compost operation in the Botanie Valley near Lytton.
“We’re concerned about the nuisance being caused by the compost,” she said in a Vancouver Sun interview. “We’ve had a lot of complaints. It smells like rotting vegetables.” More than 185 formal complaints have been registered with the Ministry of Environment’s Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) program about the air quality in the Botanie Valley and surrounding area.
LFN’s immediate game plan is to bring the ranch to the table to discuss the compost operation and to ensure that community concerns are incorporated into the management plan.
The new bylaw allows for fines of up to $1,000 per violation, although for now only warning tickets are being issued. A gate has been erected on the Botanie Creek Road that leads to the controversial Revolution Ranch compost facility.
Residents have been fearful of commenting publicly due to defamation lawsuits Ralph McRae, president and CEO of the ranch, has launched in B.C. Supreme Court in recent years. The lawsuits allege that untrue and harmful statements about his operation have been made.
“People are allowed to say it stinks,” Miles said. “The [law]suits are a sign of bad-faith business.”
The ranch has issued a written statement saying it regrets the actions of the LFN and that the “legal ownership of a public highway” needs to be resolved quickly between the natives and the province.