Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Thousands Rally to Protect BC Rivers...Pitt River Application May Die!

Since Ledcor began bullying their way into the Ashlu Valley almost two years ago now, it has been hard to stay motivated in fighting huge companies that have enough money to facilitate whatever "green" PR spin they can come up with and enough political clout to legislate their way around the public. The issue has become so polarized it is difficult to sort out all the facts from fiction. Power companies say this, environmental groups, paddlers, and concerned citizens say that. Many of us work full time jobs and don't have the resources to be out there following every last meeting, chasing all the sheets of paper being pushed, and writing letters to decision makers. But people have banded together and the coalition of people opposing the massive give-away of BC's rivers has grown and grown. Thanks to the many boaters out there who have taken the time to write letters, share the story and help fight the fight. It is making a difference on the ground in British Columbia. The power of public opinion has impact when the numbers and efforts are big enough. While it was not the boaters exclusively, we were some of the frontline that started to get the message out that this issue was bigger than the Ashlu. With the efforts of groups like... BC Creek Protection Society, Save Our Rivers Society, BC Rivers Alliance, Take Back The Power, and many others the issue has boiled over and people are standing their ground.

The issue has been the front page of the major BC's Newspapers, on CBC radio every day for the past week, and making the 6pm news most nights. Last night was the re-scheduled meeting in Pitt Meadows. It went off. Over 1000 people turned up to express their views on the Pitt River Proposal. Today the media attention continued with a special CBC broadcast airing at about 9am this morning. Barry Penner, the BC Minister of the Environment announced that based on strong public opposition to this project he would not be recommending the boundary change to Class A Pine Cone Burke Provincial Park necessary for this project. While the battle is far from over, there is good likely hood that this could effectively kill the Pitt River proposal at least in the interim. While this is not the BC government backing away from their private power agenda, it is certainly a step in the right direction. More importantly it is a sign of the government having to respond and deal with strong opposition to their dealings with respect to hundreds of private power projects across BC.

Our guard will stay high here at TRL, as this could easily be a quick smoke screen to try to settle widespread opposition on one project while allowing others to keep moving quickly. Either way it is a sign of the power in the collective efforts of everyone involved. Thanks for your help!


Lauren said...

This is excellent news! Please let us know what happens!

Todd Gillman said...

This is definitely a victory, but that the Pitt project, with its proposed intrusion into a Provincial Park, made it as far along as it did indicates just how loosely regulated the industry is & how bad the situation is for BC's rivers.

While it's super important to evaluate the merits/impacts of each project on a river by river basis, I really think it's time to elevate the discussion/opposition beyond individual rivers ... & move toward the evaluation of POLICY.

Bill 30 greenlights the licensing process on hundreds & hundreds of BC rivers & as such, we should be focusing the dialogue on how to close that loophole.

Jakub said...

I agree with Todd, that this is very important Victory for us. I would like to emphasize, that this project is not completely dead yet. Only the power line will not go through Provincial park. This is big blow for the company as they are planning to develop three more creeks in Squamish area (including Skookum Creek) right in way of proposed power line. However, there are still other options for power line and they will want to assure the investors, that they are capable to develop what they promised. Their stock already went down by 10% yesterday. They will receive $1.2b over 40 years for this project. Their investment is $0.4b, which means they are looking at $0.8b profit (their calculation even claim $40M/year). So they will try hard to secure this money.
On other hand, they picked up probably the worst spot they could to put the power project, so government don't like it (it looks like government doesn't have it under the control + very bad public reception of the project) and IPP's don't like it either (too much public attention, projects are not viewed as green anymore). So I'm not sure how this going to end up.

As opposition, we only gain a lot. Huge media attention, province wide debate about the issue, sense that there can be something deeply wrong with these projects. And finally, even government now admitted and send the signal that not all the streams and rivers can be developed.

Now we will push for following:
- moratorium on most of the hydro power projects until province wide plan of RoR development will be developed and EVERYONE will have chance discuss it with government.
- reversal of Bill 30
- allow BC hydro to develop new projects

In near future, we will also focus on other mega project, Klinaklini River with proposed 230MW (700MW peak) power output.We see this project as even more controversial than Upper Pitt.

Jakub Drnec
Director, BC Creek Protection Society,

wolf said...

All of us that care about BC rivers and creeks and aren't in BC right now to show our support are cheering your efforts. Without you, the grassroots stronghold, the government and private power mongers would have their way.
We salute you!
That said, we'll keep on writing those letters/editorials/articles in any forum that will hear us!
It's going to be a long battle but if we pull together on all fronts we may just curb this insanity!

Andrew Wulfers