Skip to content

WIN! DFO will not approve current Beaver River IPP proposal

The Council of Canadians Golden chapter has been opposing Selkirk Power’s proposal for its Beaver River ‘independent power project’ on the Ventego and Cupola Creeks in British Columbia.

That work has included:

– On February 24, the Golden Star reported, “Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald presented to the Legislature last week a petition signed by more than 500 Golden and area residents indicating their opposition to the development of private river-diversion projects on Ventego and Cupola Creeks. The petition was created by the Golden Chapter of Council of Canadians. Trevor Hamre, vice-president of the local Council of Canadians chapter, said his message is: We oppose the privatization of rivers in our community.”

– On March 24, the Golden Star also reported, “Selkirk Power chairman Douglas Hurst was welcomed to last Tuesday’s Town council meeting by a rally of around 100 locals who are opposed to the company’s proposed Beaver River Hydro Project. …Local organizations Wildsight, the Council of Canadians and concerned Golden residents saw it as an opportunity to show why they opposed this run-of-river hydroelectric project.” In a 3-minute BCLocalNews video of the protest, Golden chapter activist Trevor Hamre says, “We see the sale of our rivers as theft from the commons.” To watch the video, please go to http://www.bclocalnews.com/kootenay_rockies/thegoldenstar/news/118109659.html.

– On April 7, a letter in the Arrow Lake News noted, “The Arrow Lakes Environment Stewardship Society in collaboration with West Kootenay Ecosociety Nelson, Golden’s Wildsight, and the Council of Canadians have formed a Regional IPP Committee in a united stand with Regional Directors and MLAs (to) say yes to a moratorium on all independent power projects in British Columbia until they are regionally planned, environmentally appropriate, acceptable to First Nations without attachment, and publicly owned. …(This) goes for (run of the river projects on) the pristine Cupola, Ventego and Alder Creeks near Golden…”

REVIEW TEAM: Now, Wildsight reports that, “(A) group of fisheries and aquatic technical staff reviewed the (Beaver River) proposal. The review team consisted of members of the Ktunaxa Nation Council – Canadian Columbia River Intertribal Fisheries Commission (KNC), the B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (MFLNRO) and Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). ‘The team was put together to review the fisheries impacts under the Canadian Environmental Assessment,’ said Rachel Darvill, Wildsight’s Columbia Headwaters program manager. ‘It concluded that the project as proposed presents High-to-Unacceptable Risks to habitat and at-risk species.’ …The fisheries report…states that the Independent Power Producer’s (IPP) development plan does not provide ‘…the information necessary to justify the potential impacts to the fish and fish habitat resources in both Ventego and Cupola Creeks.’ …In addition, the report stated that the introduction of westslope cutthroat trout to Ventego—a mitigation plan tested by the proponent in 2009—is ‘unfeasible due to its potential impacts on other eco-systemic values.'”

DEPARTMENT OF FISHERIES AND OCEANS: “Darvill said the Department of Fisheries and Oceans will not approve the hydropower development proposal in its current state.”

PARKS CANADA: “Parks Canada also had its ecologists review the proposed development plans. In a separate document sent to Front Counter BC earlier this year, they noted multiple ecological threats.”

While this win doesn’t mean the end of the Beaver River project, it is an important step toward that goal. Congratulations to the Golden chapter and its allies in this struggle.

Note: The Wildsight media release notes that this review team was assembled under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. It should be noted that on July 20, the Vancouver Sun reported, “The federal government will slash funding to the environmental agency that evaluates potentially harmful policies and projects before they get the green light. …The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency is looking at a 43.1 per cent cut in spending, dropping from $30 million in 2011-12 to $17.1 million in 2012-13, according to the agency’s planning documents. This cut follows a 6.9 per cent, or $2.2-million, drop in the funds government allocated to the agency in 2010-11. Along with the budget cuts, the 17-year-old agency is facing a one-third reduction in the number of full-time staff…”