Aaron Hinks photo Semiahmoo First Nation Chief Harley Chappell hands White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin a cease-and-desist letter at the groundbreaking of Memorial Park Thursday.

VIDEO: Cease-and-desist order leads to clash on White Rock waterfront

Launch of eight-month park reconstruction put on hold

The City of White Rock’s plans to launch its much-touted Memorial Park upgrades ground to a halt before the event could begin Thursday, following a tense confrontation between Semiahmoo First Nation and city officials.

As invited dignitaries gathered, Mayor Wayne Baldwin – a cease-and-desist order in hand from SFN Chief Harley Chappell – called off the waterfront groundbreaking ceremony.

“We will cease right now, we will pack this up, we will get this straightened away and we will continue on with the project,” Baldwin told Chappell.

The mayor added the confrontation “is not making our relations any better, I can tell you that right now.”

Chappell attended the site accompanied by SFN councillors Joanne Charles and Roxanne Charles after learning Wednesday afternoon of the by-invitation groundbreaking plans through the Peace Arch News website. En route, he told PAN that no one from the band had been consulted about the $4.5-million plans for the park, which is on traditional SFN land. They were also not invited to the morning’s festivities.

“I knew nothing of it,” Chappell said.

He described the site as a potential ancient burial ground, and the city’s process to date as “blatant disregard to their community and their neighbours.”

“Obviously we have huge concerns when it comes to the archeological site that it’s on.

“I’m hoping to have a conversation with Mayor (Wayne) Baldwin before I get there. It’s obviously not going to be resolved today, but I think only out of respect, until the proper protocols are followed, work is halted.”

At the scene, Chappell told city manager Dan Bottrill that the situation – of no consultation with the band regarding the park, as well as ongoing issues of contention – was “preposterous.”

“You have a responsibility as a municipality to consult with local community, you have a responsibility to the Heritage Act to ensure that proper permits and protocol are done for historical areas, high-potential areas.

“I’m troubled.”

The city issued a “media advisory” last Friday regarding the groundbreaking. The launch was to kick off an approximately eight-month project – that includes a new design, new washrooms, expanded concert and performance area, improved all-abilities access, and more – that was announced on a smaller scale in February 2016.

“It started with a simple plan and ended up with something fantastic,” engineering and municipal operations director Greg St. Louis – who has since left his post with the city – told council at their July 24 meeting.

The Sept. 8 advisory notes that the work was “approved by council following public consultation and feedback.”

In a post to PAN’s Facebook page Wednesday evening, responding to the story detailing the groundbreaking, Chappell notes the city also does not have the necessary archeological permits to proceed.

“The project, which is to include a bigger footprint than the existing park, is situated on a key and sensitive archeological site of one of our nation’s ancient villages and may very well include remains of our long passed ancestors,” he writes. “We find this disrespectful to us, and our ancestors in every way.”

“…we demand the city cease and desist until meaningful dialogue and consultation has been completed.”

Chappell confirmed to PAN that the matter goes beyond this one issue; and is tied to ongoing tension between the band and the city. The band will not consider agreeing to permits “until we sit and have proper conversation and proper discussion about several issues we have with the City of White Rock,” he said. “One of the only weights that we have is being able to hold the City of White Rock to some honour and respect to the area that they live in and have jurisdiction over.”

During Thursday’s confrontation – which RCMP officers monitored from a respectful distance – the issue of White Rock planning to cut off its water supply next February to the SFN reserve arose, as Chappell pointed to areas of “disconnect” between the two communities.

Baldwin told Chappell the water issue “was of your doing.”

“You initiated it, we just followed through on it,” Baldwin said, referring to a meeting between the two sides.

He cut off Roxanne Charles when she interjected.

“Roxanne, you weren’t there,” Baldwin said. “You can’t speak to it firsthand because you were not there.”

The confrontation ended with Baldwin – following comment from Chappell about unsuccessful efforts to have the two sides meet – suggesting an immediate council-to-council meeting at city hall, the results of which were not available by PAN’s press time.

Just Posted

Abbotsford man charged with two child porn offences

Investigation against Jeremy Allen Willms, 42, began in April

Andy Sidhu appointed new chancellor at UFV

Third person to take on university role, first established in 2008

VIDEO: JRfm’s Holiday Fun Day sets up shop again at Langley Events Centre

Great music accompanies family fun as JRfm raises diapers and donations for Basics for Babies.

Abbotsford lawyer suing The Bay claims he was assaulted by security guard

Greg Lanning says incident started when he asked to have label removed from pants

Large drug bust yields fentanyl and carfentanil

Abbotsford Police launch investigation after spike in overdose deaths

VIDEO: Average Canadian food bill to rise by $348 in 2018

Atlantic Canada and B.C. will see the most increases for consumers

Quarter of students were away sick at Maple Ridge elementary school

Students and teachers at Maple Ridge school away with colds, flu.

Suspect in Revelstoke standoff killed himself: RCMP

Mohammadali Darabi, suspect in the Calgary homicide of his roommate, was stopped in Revelstoke

VIDEO: Salt Spring Islanders ferry piano to their floating home

Everyone enjoys a little music on the water, but not everyone has a piano on their boat

Clinton visits Vancouver, applauds Trudeau, celebrates Democrats’ win in Alabama

Clinton told crowd she cheered when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed the country’s first gender-balanced cabinet.

Frustrated federal workers rally against Phoenix payroll system at B.C. MP’s office

Some employees out tens of thousands of dollars with ‘no end in sight’

Bomb detonated in Kamloops neighbourhood

Kamloops RCMP are investigating after an improvised explosive device was detonated Wednesday morning

No More Shootouts: Strong defence will be Canada’s backbone at world juniors

Head coach doesn’t want a situation where a hot goalie or a lucky bounce can determine a team’s fate

Maple Ridge becomes the mysterious haunt of the X-Files

Stars of sci-fi series show up in Memorial Peace Park

Most Read