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Re: the proposed Ashlu Hydro Project

The Ashlu River Canyon is a unique place. It is currently the target of a company that wants to turn it into a power project. Its environmental value is irreplaceable to all of us who live here and its tourist value is priceless. For those of you who haven't witnessed the beauty of the Ashlu Canyon first hand it is like Nairn Falls, except with a lot more water rushing down over a much greater distance through a spectacular marble and granite canyon. It is the canyon which is the subject area. It ends at the Squamish River, at the 20 Mile mark of the Squamish Valley Road. If you would like to see it drive past 20 Mile Ranch and turn left on the bridge and follow the road across the delta, keeping left, until you come to the twin bridges of the Ashlu. Open your windows and feel the cooling effect of those waters. A few kilometres later, from the deck of the third Ashlu bridge, you can see this natural spectacle. There is a walking trail just past the bridge. You will want to bring a camera.

British Columbia has embraced the idea of generating electricity using Independent Power Projects. The IPP process involves using private money to develop power. It seems like a good idea except the private money buys political influence and the socio-economic partnership can take on a life of its own. When a project is ready to produce it is plugged into the North American hydro grid and becomes a part of NAFTA. Is there anyone who doesn't know about NAFTA? Don't think for a second the turbines could be turned off. Once a contract is signed you must produce power regardless of ongoing negative impacts.

Land and Water B.C., a provincial Crown corporation, manages the IPP process. When LWBC is satisfied with an application they issue a water licence and land-use licence. Currently the Ashlu application is under review by the Crown corp.

The Province of B.C. had established the Land Resources Management Planning Commission (LRMP) to give land use guidance to the IPP process. Their important work wasn't completed before this current rash of IPP applications. Virtually every major stream from Pemberton to Horseshoe Bay is at risk of an IPP project. Some of these projects are viable and are proceeding. The need for regional cumulative environmental impact studies remains. The Squamish-Lillooet Regional District has been put in the position of having to make the final decision on IPP land use. The failure of the LRMP to work effectively placed the Ashlu on the agenda of the SLRD.

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