The location of the future Kassian Park in Yale, a project meant to honour Walter and Sophie Kassian. FVRD map

The location of the future Kassian Park in Yale, a project meant to honour Walter and Sophie Kassian. FVRD map

Kassian memorial park one step closer to reality

Park in Yale planned to honour longtime residents Walter and Sophie Kassian

Kassian Park is one step closer to reality.

Dennis Adamson, Fraser Valley Regional District Electoral Area B Director, has been advocating and planning for the creation of a memorial park dedicated to community members Walter and Sophie Kassian. The regional district has applied for a 30-year lease of two lots of crown land on Front Street to house the park.

Once the lease is secured, Adamson said it will only take a few months to get the park ready to open as the regional district has been working on it since last August. The lots are empty save for trees and lilac bushes – the plan is to include picnic tables, parking stalls, access to the Chinese legacy project site and flush toilets, which Adamson said his late mentor would approve of.

“Walter, he said to me all the time, ‘being electoral director, the two things you’ve got to make sure of is safety and sanitation.” Adamson added that having bathrooms at the park also prevents the practice of people using the shore of the Fraser River as a temporary loo. “So building a bathroom for him, it just makes perfect sense.”

It was Walter who talked Adamson into running for office, after he himself served 33 years in local government – including as Area B director, and unofficial mayor of Yale, as well as chair of the Fraser-Cheam Board. Walter passed away last year, he was 86.

Read more: Long-time Yale resident, Walter Kassian, remembered for decades of community involvement

“He asked me (to run), I’m sure he asked everybody in town first. And I said ‘I don’t know anything about politics,’ and he goes ‘Good, yeah that’s what we’re looking for,’” Adamson remembered. “And I said ‘OK, if you can’t find anybody else, I’ll put my name in for you,’ and he quit looking.”

Walter then became Adamson’s mentor in politics. Having served so long and lived in the community even longer, Walter would take current issues back decades which was an invaluable asset for Adamson.

The Kassian’s were and Sophie is “two remarkable people that lived in Yale and gave a lot to the community,” Adamson said. From helping to register First Nations people when they first received the vote, to getting parents involved in the Yale Elementary School parent advisory committee, the pair were as engaged as you could get with the community.

Chief of Yale Ken Hansen is supportive of the memorial park plans, Adamson added.

Sophie also initiated a women-led movement opposing the BC Forest Service’s 1977 plan to spray insecticides from the air to control an infestaton of western spruce budworm. The opposition, which even included a shutdown of the highway, eventually won out when the spray program was blocked by Cabinet order.

Read more: History of the local opposition to the budworm spray program

The Fraser Valley Regional District has applied to the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development for use of the two lots. Comments on the application are open until May 16 on the ministry’s website.

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