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Brandywine hydro proposal hinges on First Nations



The only major stumbling block to a green power project on Brandywine Creek is First Nations, according to proponents of the proposal.

With a water license, land tenure and open positive dialogue with local kayakers in hand, the project is slated to go ahead, pending municipal rezoning of the land for the powerhouse, if First Nations considerations can be resolved.

The municipality however, is concerned about the lack of First Nations’ support.

Council raised concerns about this impasse at Monday's meeting when staff asked for a first and second reading of Pacific Northwest Energy Corp.'s Brandywine project.

"I find this a difficult position to be in," said Councillor Dave Kirk, who said the municipality was trying to establish good relations with the Mount Currie band and Squamish Nation.

"This, in a sense, is beyond our abilities to resolve."

The mayor echoed Kirk's sentiment.

"We have a very strong relationship now (with First Nations)," said Hugh O'Reilly.

"We want something that works in the best interests for all of us."

This issue was first raised late last year when the Squamish and Lil'wat Nations wrote a letter to the Minister of the Environment, Land and Parks. In the letter, signed by the chiefs of both nations, it states:

"(The) Pacific Northwest Energy Corporation has not made reasonable efforts to address or accommodate outstanding issues of aboriginal rights and title."

But the project's proponents say they have been trying to talk to First Nations repeatedly to no avail.

"In spite of all of our attempts to invite First Nations to consult and negotiate, the representatives of the Squamish and Mount Currie bands have consistently failed to meet with us," said lawyer Ulf Ottho, who was at Monday's meeting with a handful of other PNEC representatives.

Ottho said PNEC has tried roughly 33 times to meet and negotiate with First Nations.

"We have attempted to fully consult with First Nations and the provincial government was aware of that," said Ottho.

"The provincial government accordingly granted our land tenure and water license without any restrictions concerning First Nations."

The Brandywine Creek proposal has been on the table for several years, following on the heels of projects on Miller and Rutherford Creeks in Pemberton.

Ottho said First Nations received a 10 per cent share of revenue generated from Miller Creek.

"We were informed that, unfortunately there was another hydro project where First Nations extracted, when that proposal was at the provincial government level, a share of the revenue generated by the project," he said.

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