An open letter to the Premier from Anna Rose
To the Honourable Gordon Campbell, Premier of British Columbia,
I am a BC resident who is extremely concerned about the so-called “Run of the River” Power Projects. I live in the community of Gray Creek, and through my window I can see Kootenay Lake about 100 m away. I grew up on another part of it. I eat fish from it, I kayak on it, and observe close-up, among many wildlife species, the great blue herons that are rated “of special concern” by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. I memorize the names of the creeks that flow down the narrow forested valleys into the lake, get my water from one of them at the edge of this property, and hike up them. “Ecosystem” is not just a theoretical concept to me. I have a deep appreciation and understanding of this one in the Kootenays from years of personal experience and self-directed learning. Therefore, when I first heard about the large project north of here, which plans to divert water from Glacier and Howser Creeks through tunnels totaling 16 km, cut new roads and build power lines in territory important to grizzlies (another species-of-concern), I felt alarmed, outraged and incredulous. How could our elected government let a huge corporation wreck a living ecosystem in our crown land, just for monetary gain?
Each week I hear of another megaproject, worse than the last. The proposed Bute Inlet Project would divert water from 17 rivers, and require 142 bridges, 267 km of roads and 443 km of new power lines, all in a wilderness that is home to a dozen species of wildlife at risk and 18 species of plants at risk. There are 6 other projects proposed near Bute Inlet. We don’t know what the cumulative effects might be. The only good news is that resistance to these over-sized projects is growing all across BC. Experts, such as Dr.Gordon Hartman, retired from the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, are speaking out. He calls the way the government has allowed the situation to develop “totally irresponsible …reprehensible … It is not progress to just go out and build more dams, build more this, dig bigger holes … Progress for me would really mean changing our whole mental state about our relationship to this planet.”
Experts in other areas tell us that the projects are inefficient and not needed for BC’s own power needs. Power will be sold to the US, and our BC Hydro will suffer due to new regulations. MLA’s point out how the process of granting licenses is increasingly undemocratic. The provincial government’s Bill 30 blocks objections from the municipal level. Public hearings are few and far between.
One of the best public education websites I found is www.watershed-watch .org. I agree with what that group of scientists and citizens, initially prompted by the further threat to the endangered salmon species, is calling for our provincial government to do:
-re-think the energy planning process. Provide incentives for energy conservation
-incorporate regional and provincial land use planning to decide which areas are
environmentally and geographically appropriate for energy projects
-make long-term data collection and adaptive management a legal requirement for
all water licensees
-be more open to public input. Let it have a real effect on whether projects move
forward or are rejected. Repeal Bill 30
-do not let the Glacier/Howser and Bute Inlet projects move forward, due to the
uncertainty around whether environmental risks and impacts can be adequately
measured, mitigated and monitored
Let us be stewards of this precious land, not exploiters with short-range vision.