Thursday - March 21, 2024 - Gross mismanagement at Matsqui Complex

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Good morning!

Mission’s Spring Fair is happening this weekend. I am an absolute sucker for those horrifying amusement park rides—the kind that are hauled around on semi trucks, get hammered together wherever they show up, and are operated by hungover teenagers. The last time I went on one of these, though (The Zipper, which is essentially a psychotic version of a ferris wheel) a screw came loose and fell onto the platform when we were boarding. We still got on, and we’re still alive. I’m just as surprised as anyone. I might stick to the big yo-yo swing this year. But I say that every year.

– Grace

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Traffic & Weather

🌤 Local forecast: Langley | Chilliwack | Abbotsford | Hope

🚘 Driving today? Check the current traffic situation via Google, and find DriveBC’s latest updates.

🛣 Click here for links to road cameras across the Fraser Valley, including those for the Coquihalla, Highway 7, Hope-Princeton, Fraser Canyon, and Highway 1 in Langley and Abbotsford.


Prison officials ignored a leak that endangered workers and Abbotsford's aquifer

Management at Matsqui Institution in Abbotsford ignored a leak in the prison’s heating system for years, leading to unknown environmental effects and, at one point, a significant risk of the boiler exploding.

An investigation by Canada’s Public Sector Integrity Commission revealed that the prison’s management knew about the leak for years. Engineers first reported a leak of chemically-treated hot water in 2017. Fixing it required an expensive excavation, engineers said. The excavation project was started, but halted due to the weather and never restarted because management decided the leak was not getting worse.

But it was.

By 2021, the leak was so significant that engineers had to take extreme measures to keep the prison’s heating system running. Those measures, which included constantly adding cold water to the boiler, posed a “mounting risk of explosion.” A worker filed a complaint on the unsafe working conditions and, later that day, an engineer shut down the system against the wishes of management. The prison had no hot water or heating for three days.

By the time a full excavation and permanent repairs began in May of 2021, millions of litres of water loaded with anti-corrosion chemicals from the heating system had leached into the groundwater near an aquifer, salmon habitats, and farmer’s fields. Prison management never tested the soil, so the extent of the environmental impact is not known.

  • Canada’s Public Sector Integrity Commissioner, tipped off by a whistleblower, has found that the management at the institution committed gross mismanagement in handling the leak at the Matsqui Complex. Read the report here.


Need to Know

👮‍♂️ The large brick building that houses Langley City’s police office could go into foreclosure [Langley Advance Times]

➡️ The IIO is investigating a crash in Langley that began with an attempted traffic stop [Langley Advance Times]

🌳 Abbotsford is not liable for a tree that fell and broke a trampoline, a tribunal says [Abbotsford News]

🚘️ Three people were seriously injured in a car accident outside of Mission [Mission Record

📱 The City of Abbotsford has created an app to help non-profits better provide services to homeless populations in the city [Fraser Valley Today]

✂️ A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held for the long-awaited Paramount affordable housing building in Chilliwack [Chilliwack Progress]

🏒 Ross ‘Rosco’ Beebe, an advisor, billet, and cherished part of the Chilliwack Chiefs died last Sunday [Chilliwack Progress]

👉️ Mission’s Hospice Society is planning a new, 10-bed standalone hospice facility [Mission Record]

🚁 One person and two dogs who had been missing for two days in Hope’s backcountry were found and rescued yesterday [Hope Standard]

📷️ CURRENT CAM: No one has correctly identified the location of yesterday’s Current Cam yet! Check out yesterday’s newsletter to try again.

🍽️ Voting is now open for the 2024 Georgia Straight Golden Plates Awards. Vote for your favourite Metro Vancouver restaurants, including local categories for best restaurant in Abbotsford, Chilliwack, and Langley!

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The Agenda

Complaints and questions about roads and sidewalks in Mission are outpacing staff’s ability to deal with them. 📷️ City of Mission/Facebook

Mission facing six-year road complaint backlog

If you are annoyed by a Mission road, sidewalk or intersection and send a message to the city, don’t expect a quick response. 

Council heard this week that the city’s transportation department has 255 outstanding requests and inquiries, with the backlog stretching back to 2018.

A 2021 plan to smooth the process—and implementing a five-month deadline to respond to requests—has failed, a staff report said this week. That’s partly because of high staff turnover, competing priorities, and high workloads, staff say. 

Mission gets around 114 inquiries a year, or roughly one every three days. The requests vary from simple inquiries to demands for traffic calming measures and studies.

Now the city says it will stop responding to some complicated, but lower-priority inquiries. The city will respond with information when it is available. But for concerns about issues like speeding, parking and medium- and low-priority issues, the information will be recorded, but no response will be guaranteed. Instead, city staff say they will examine the totality of the concerns, look for trends, and try to address them in a systematic manner.

Mission council approved the new process, while asking for a quarterly spreadsheet of complaints and mandating new public engagement events to get resident feedback.

🗓 Things to do this week/end

🎡 Spring fair: The Mission Spring Fair with fair rides, games, and treats will run from Thursday, March 21 to March 24 at the Junction Shopping Centre. Details online.

🕊️ Nature festival: The Great Blue Heron Nature Reserve is hosting a family nature festival on March 22 and 23. Details online.

🩰 Vampire ballet: Ballet Victoria's Dracula comes to the Chilliwack Cultural Centre March 22 at 7:30pm. Tickets online.

Want even more? Insider members get a comprehensive events listing every Thursday, plus a weekly Saturday round-up edition with behind-the-scenes content. Becoming a member costs less than $2 a week and helps support the ongoing production of The Current’s newsletters and in-depth journalism. Become a member here.

Have an event to tell us about? Fill out this form to have it highlighted here.

Catch up

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Grace Giesbrecht

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