The Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) passed a resolution to oppose the development of additional power production facilities in the region on March 17th.
Rachel Darvill, Wildsight’s Columbia Headwaters program manager, also made a presentation on the proposed Beaver River Hydroelectric Project to the CSRD and Selkirk Power chairman Douglas Hurst presented a summary of the Beaver River project and the application process the company has been going through.
The CSRD passed the following resolution on the 17th: “Staff prepare a response to the Ministry of Natural Resource Operations regarding the proposed Beaver River Power Project reiterating Board resolution 2008-908, which states: BC Hydro and the Province conduct a comprehensive and public review of Independent Power Projects (IPPs) – including cumulative impacts of the number of IPPs – from economic, social and environmental perspectives.
The second resolution states: “The CSRD Board does not support the construction of any additional power production facilities until the impacts of the construction of the Mica dam and the flooding of the Kinbasket reservoir are addressed in a meaningful and significant way.”
Darvill said that she is grateful to the CSRD directors for taking a stand on behalf of their constituents.
“We know many residents in Golden and Revelstoke do not accept what’s planned for these watersheds—the regional district vote backs that up.”
At the meeting, CSRD Director Ron Oszust made sure it was clear that his decisions were not specifically about the Selkirk Power’s project, but was made by looking at the broader perspective, rooted in communities’ historical position on hydro electric development in our region.
“Many of our communities’ concerns relate to historical and ongoing impacts from the overall development of the dams and reservoirs on the Columbia River in the first place,” he said. “It has long been the argument of communities most impacted by the dams that the province has benefited greatly from these projects, while the local communities immediately adjacent to them have suffered severe negative impacts.”
Oszust believes that collectively, we feel a sense of “lingering injustice” as the direct effects to our communities and our environment have never been fully addressed or compensated for in a fair manner.
“There are outstanding issues with the power generation/reservoir creation process that haven’t been addressed to date,” said Oszust. “ Until they are addressed I am saying no to any further development.”
Selkirk Power’s Douglas Hurst said that again, his company had to force themselves into the dialogue. They were given four days notice of Wildsight’s presentation and had to request a delegation spot at the last minute.
“Asked if the CSRD has the resources, expertise or jurisdiction to deal with resource / energy permitting, the answer is no on all accounts,” said Hurst. “ Why entertain a delegation on which they have no jurisdiction? It is the province that is staffed with the knowledge to assess and permit resource / energy projects.”
Hurst also explained that even if we have enough energy right now (as Darvill noted in her presentation to the CSRD), it takes at least 7 years to find, develop and build a small project like Selkirk’s.
“We have to project into the future and say that it fossil fuel use will diminish what will we replace it with? Coal? Nuclear? Solar? Wind? All of these take time to plan and build.”