The Ymir Watershed Action Team (YWAT) is taking their fight to protect their community’s only source of clean water currently threatened by a proposal to harvest timber in the watershed to Victoria Monday (October 23).
The Ymir Watershed Action Team, which includes Jason “J” Leuss, Ktunaxa LKB Councillor Jared Basil and YWAT team member Ernie Fidgeon, said this week the group is scheduled to meet with MLA’s about this critical situation.
“British Columbia Timber Sales (BCTS) are proposing to harvest timber in the Quartz Creek watershed. . ..This is our community’s only source of drinking and firefighting water," Leus explained.
"The BCTS proposal for the Ymir Community Watershed is unacceptable," Leus added.
"It is an affront to both business ethics and human rights. BCTS remain single minded in their plans to carve 5.6 km of new road, crossing tributaries to our supply, Quartz Creek, 45 times in an effort to access 36 hectares as “Phase I” of development within the watershed. Quartz Creek is a historically precarious source of drinking, household, and fire protection water for our small community.”
Ymir Watershed Action Team said in the early 2000’s the community searched for alternative sources to their fragile Quartz Creek system.
However, the search revealed no alternative sources as more were shown to be untreatable due to contaminants associated with early mining practices in the area.
This leaves Ymir with a watershed that is unusually small at six square kilometers, with a particularly fragile ecosystem and already runs at capacity to supply the community with water during low-flows.
YWAT has created broad community awareness and built a strong coalition, around this critical issue of small community water rights and supply.
YWAT already has garnered more than 5000 letters of support from community stakeholders as well as the unanimous support of the RDCK Area Directors, the Ktunaxa Band Council, local political leader Kim Charlesworth, and others.
Local MLA and Minister of Energy and Mines, Michelle Mungall, has also expressed support for the community's concerns.
“Ymir is pro-responsible logging, and anti-bad decision making," Leuss said.
"Which should be given priority: 36 hectares of timber and employment for four people for four months, or, water for 400 for life?”
“The decision about who has the control of water and community watersheds must be in the hands of the communities who depend on such systems for their livelihood and vitality,” he adds.