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Stuart Smith is River Projects Co-ordinator for the Whitewater Kayak Association of B.C.
This goes out with a huge thank you to those members of Squamish council with enough foresight to look at the big picture and vote to recommend against the Ashlu IPP. I have let it be known that I moved to Squamish as a recreationalist because of this special river. I have since bought a house in Squamish, and land in the Upper Squamish Valley for this same reason.
Having also attended the Oct. 5 council meeting I was appalled by the outlook that the mayor had taken regarding a few issues.
1) First and foremost let the kayakers speak for themselves! The Dept. of Navigable Waters does not give our approval to the project. Ledcor has openly stated that because of the stance taken by the Whitewater Kayak Association of B.C. (we are against the project entirely) they do not want to deal with us. Ledcor states that the Dept. of Navigable Waters has given them approval, but this same department has no provision to say no to the project. The Navigable Waters Protection Act allows a project with an impact on a waterway to proceed. The "power" of the act is that it requires mitigation of some sort. The Navigable Waters officers have told us they do not have the power to deny a project. It seems evident that this does not portray the interests of the paddling community.
2) The mayor speaks of one in five letters referring to a dam on the Ashlu. Despite Ledcor's best attempts to tell us that there will be no dam, all information presented shows that the "intake structure" will be a 3 metre rubber weir on top of a 5 metre concrete structure with a head pond around 800 metres. It seems that "intake structure" is merely a soft washed way of spelling dam. The project would essentially de-water the best paddling sections, during their best paddling seasons. All of this being contrary to the propaganda put forth by Ledcor in their "whats good for kayaking" leaflets. Can we please get our recreational impacts input from the reacreationalists and not the profit motivated corporation!
3) We are not against micro hydro! This could be the most important topic that is getting twisted around. We simply need to look at where they best fit. A Land Resource Management Plan (LRMP) has recently been created to assess which interests are best suited where. All key players participated, with the exception of the IPP industry, which seems to feel that they are above all that. The LRMP plan clearly states no IPPs on the Ashlu, and looks at areas where they are better suited.