Walter Kassian – Yale, BC
My name is Walter Kassian. I have lived in Yale for 52 years. I am retired and own a farm in Yale. I have worked in the resource sector and have served the public as an elected official in the past as Regional District Rep for 24 years and as a Councillor for the District of Hope for one year and various positions with the Fraser Canyon Hospital in Hope for 37 years..
I made a presentation to the Commission before Christmas. As I could not attend then, a friend read my presentation into the record at the Abbotsford Hearing in October last year. At the time, I stated that Hope and the Fraser Canyon needed to go back into Fraser-Nicola and I am still of that opinion. I am glad that the Commission also felt the same when you made that change people in the Hope area and I recommended to you last year. I am a firm believer that if ‘something ain’t broke, don’t fix it!’ However, since 2009, Chilliwack-Hope was ‘broke’ and badly in need of ‘fixin!’ You fixed it! I want to take this opportunity to thank you for listening to our small voices in little communities like Yale. That really means a lot because it rarely happens nowadays. The big voices in bigger communities like Chilliwack, Abbotsford and Vancouver always drown out our little voices from small communities. As someone who has lived most of his life in Yale this really is a big deal for us.
Hope and the Fraser Canyon communities should never have been removed from Fraser-Nicola, or Yale-Lillooet as it really should be called, not Fraser-Nicola. It was very upsetting that Hope and the Fraser Canyon were removed because of a submission made by the Mayor and Council of the District of Hope in 2008. Hope Council never asked the people of Boothroyd, Boston Bar, North Bend, Spuzzum, Yale, Dogwood Valley, or the citizens of Hope and surrounding area for our opinions. There was no consultation, no public meetings, no ads in the local papers, and no input was solicited by Hope Council. They made the submission all on their own, and it angered everybody. The District of Hope was not speaking for us here in Yale.
Nonetheless, our interests will, once again, be better served as a part of a re-united Yale-Lillooet. We have more in common with the other smaller communities like Merritt, Logan Lake, Lytton, Lillooet and others. Our economic interests (forestry, mining, tourism, ranching, and transportation) are more aligned with these communities than with the construction and agriculture-based Chilliwack. As someone who has made a living in the resource sector in the past, I believe it makes more sense that we are again joined with other communities with similar economic drivers.
Our community interests are the same as these rural communities, such as our history, the economy, dealing with the after-shock of cuts to government services like hospitals and schools. While Chilliwack deals with medium city-sized suburban problems like managing growth, our problems are related to community survival and bread-and-butter issues. Also, shopping for goods and services in a neighbouring community do not define community interest.
I fully support the changes you have made in the Hope area in your initial report.
Thank you for your time.