Snuneymuxw drinking water in the works

Snuneymuxw First Nation Indian Reserve No. 2 is being hooked up to Nanaimo’s water supply.

The water infrastructure project will connect the reserve to water supply lines at 1125 Cedar Rd. to provide a steady supply of potable drinking water to the reserve.

Water has been trucked to the community for more than 20 years after groundwater contamination was discovered and the wells on the reserve were closed.

A groundbreaking ceremony, attended by representatives from the city and the Snuneymuxw band council – and including a blessing by Gary Manson, Snuneymuxw spiritual advisor – was held on Cedar Road to kick off construction Monday morning.

“I want everyone to know what this means to our people, what it means to me as the chief of the Snuneymuxw First Nation, the work of my council over so                    many years, to address what is a really critical need for our people for safe drinking water – for an effective, efficient supply of water,” said Doug White III, Snuneymuxw First Nation Chief.

White said one reason so much of the reserve remains undeveloped is due to a lack of water and sewage infrastructure.

The project is a collaboration between the City of Nanaimo and Snuneymuxw First Nation that started in 2010 when the city announced plans for a new water treatment facility.

White said the $500,000 cost of the project is being paid for by the Snuneymuxw band and is one small step in helping the Snuneymuxw people to unlock the full potential of their land.

The agreement to hook up the reserve to city water was 20 years in the making.

“There are a lot of reasons for it and one is that we wanted to try and tie it in with additional supply of water,” said John Ruttan, Nanaimo Mayor. “We worked very closely with Chief White in acquiring some Crown land for our water treatment plant and without his help it’s questionable whether we would have been able to achieve what we’ve done. We took this as a step forward and the city then worked very closely in providing the water here as part of the overall agreement.”

Doug White, Snuneymuxw band councillor,  said the band can do things on its own, but can do things better together with the city.

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