Scores of concerned Pembertonians, and others, descended upon
the old Pemberton Community Centre Thursday night to express their opinions about
a proposed run-of-river project on the Ryan River.
Many of those present didn’t have to speak to let their
opinions be known — they wore nametags that read “No DAM way” and brought
signs that read, “Keep the Ryan Wild” and “Stop the Ryan Ru(I)n of River
Project.” Others concerned about what they see as threats to wildlife, held
pictures of fish and grizzlies.
Throughout the meeting comments from the audience ranged from
questions about the privatization of B.C. rivers to outright accusations of
Some Pemberton residents noted after the meeting that people
who live outside the valley took up a lot of time asking questions, while local
residents didn’t get as much opportunity to speak.
The meeting was part of the public consultation process
overseen by the Environmental Assessment Office (EAO). That’s a joint office of
the federal and provincial governments that brings together all departments and
permitting agencies that review a run of river project before an environmental
assessment can move forward.
The Ryan River project currently lies within the “Information
Requirements for Application” phase. It’s the second of eight phases in the
EAO’s review process.
The current phase, which includes accepting public comments on
the project, will conclude Dec. 15. The next phase involves preparing and
submitting an application to the EAO.
Regional Power Inc., a Toronto-based subsidiary of Manulife
Financial, wants to establish a 145-megawatt run-of-river power plant on the
Ryan River. The project will have a powerhouse with three to five turbine
generators. Some of the river water will be diverted through a 9.5-km tunnel
that will be burrowed through Sugarloaf Mountain.
The water will then enter the powerhouse at the end of the
tunnel. A 26.5-km transmission line will carry the electricity from the Ryan
River to a substation located near the Rutherford Creek Hydro Project
Electricity generated at the Ryan River plant will be fed into
the Western Interconnection, a power grid that distributes electricity in
Western North America, over the Rocky Mountains in Canada and south to Baja
California in Mexico.
A unique feature of the project will be a man-made salmon
habitat that will increase the fish population in the Ryan River, according to
Nigel Protter, the principal of Exergetics Development Co. and a consultant who
providing information about the project to Pemberton and surrounding