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Mississippi Mills chapter hosts Maude Barlow for talk on water and energy issues

On July 4, 2016, Council of Canadians Mississippi Mills chapter activists joined with local allies to protest the expansion of the Enerdu dam on the Mississippi River.

The Council of Canadians Mississippi Mills chapter hosted Maude Barlow last night for a public forum in Almonte.

Barlow comments, “Great evening with the Mississippi Mills chapter in Almonte. About 75 people were at our event.” The promotion for the talk had highlighted, “Please join Maude Barlow for a discussion of our converging environmental, energy and water resource policy issues. When: Friday, May 12 from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Where: Almonte United Church Hall, 106 Elgin Street, Almonte.”

Formerly a separate municipality, Almonte is now a ward of the town of Mississippi Mills. It’s located about 45 kilomtres south-west of downtown Ottawa and is situated on the scenic Mississippi River.

The chapter has been opposing the expansion of a hydroelectric project on that river.

The Toronto Star has explained, “The [Enerdu Power Systems hydroelectric dam] expansion, aimed for completion in January 2018, will see construction crews blast out the river bed to deepen the channel, install two large turbines, and a new building to house the extra elements.”

Barlow visited Almonte to speak against the dam in November 2014.

Construction on the dam began in July 2016 with gravel being dumped into the river. When that started, Barlow joined with Mississippi Mills mayor Shaun McLaughlin and more than 5,000 other people to ask federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna to issue an emergency order to stop the construction of the dam.

But McKenna failed to issue that order.

That summer, the Canadian Press reported, “McLaughlin won office in 2014 on a platform opposing the Enerdu expansion. McLaughlin said the new plant will regulate the river level and damage trees in a large swamp about eight kilometres upriver. ‘Is it a green project when you’re killing off a wetland?’ he asked. He also cited the endangered rapids clubtail dragonfly. ‘Is it a green project when you’re messing up the habitat of a critically endangered species? What really is green?’ McLaughlin says the risks outweigh the benefits of adding such a small amount of new power to a grid that’s already well supplied.”

Construction crews were required to stop work on the dam on March 15 – to accommodate fish spawning season – but will resume work in July.

In November 2016, the Mississippi Mills chapter also hosted Barlow and Council of Canadians climate justice campaigner Daniel Cayley-Daoust for a public forum in nearby Renfrew, which is close to the route of the proposed 1.1 million barrel per day TransCanada Energy East tar sands pipeline.

On October 1, 2013, under the previous Mississippi Mills municipal council, the Committee of the Whole voted against becoming a blue community.