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Ashlu Creek on ORC’s list of top-10 endangered rivers



Proposed independent power projects main reason, but Ledcor says list based on opinion rather than fact

The Outdoor Recreation Council of B.C. has included Ashlu Creek, a tributary to the Squamish River, in it’s 12 th annual list of B.C.’s Most Endangered Rivers.

This is Ashlu Creek’s first appearance on the list, which was created to highlight critical fisheries and river management issues. It was added in response to proposed run-of-river hydro power projects on Ashlu Creek and Sigurd Creek by Ledcor Power.

"This initiative highlights today’s most critical river-related issues as identified by grassroots river stewards, fisheries managers and ORC members," said Mark Angelo, ORC’s Rivers Chair.

"Among these are major concerns regarding threatened Steelhead stocks, excessive water extraction and the proliferation of independent power projects."

Ashlu Creek is recognized as one of the top whitewater kayaking runs in the region, and there has been controversy over the decision to divert a portion of the water for hydro purposes since the project was pre-qualified for an Electricity Purchase Agreement by B.C. Hydro in March of 2003.

The project is currently in the consultation and permitting phase as Ledcor goes through the application process with federal and provincial governments, the municipal government, the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District and consultation with First Nations.

According to Kelly Boychuk, the project director for Ledcor, the ORC list of endangered rivers appears to be based on opinion rather than fact.

"It’s confusing because it seems to say that they are for the idea of IPP (independent power projects) but on the other hand they want to proceed cautiously," said Boychuk.

There were also errors in the document, according to Boychuk. The report says Ledcor has seven active lease applications for the Ashlu drainage while they only have the one. "Someone didn’t do their homework," Boychuk said.

Additionally, the Sigurd Creek application, which drains into the Ashlu, has not been approved for an Electricity Purchase Agreement with B.C. Hydro, which is the first step in building a run-of-river hydro project.

"The report really sounds like someone’s opinion, which everyone is entitled to," said Boychuk, who says he was not approached by the ORC to share his information. "For a list of the 10 most endangered runs in the province, I would have expected that the fellow (author) would have given me a call for more information."

The environmental baseline studies on the Ashlu and other creeks to determine whether the IPP projects will have any impact on fish populations further downstream are in their fourth year.

Boychuk says that the lack of science and fact regarding the rivers in the ORC report might suggest that the real reason that the Ashlu is on the list is the concern over the impact that the IPP project might have on kayakers who use the area.