One of the Fraser Valley’s regional directors is leading two walking tours through a forested habitat being considered for a run-of-river project.
“It’s short notice, and whether there are a few or there are a lot (who come along), it doesn’t really matter,” said FVRD director Wendy Bales. She sent out the invite to a few key groups that may be interested in exploring the area, including the Fraser Basin Council.
She has already been out to the area herself a few times, around Sakwi Creek, up Hemlock Valley.
While walking around the proposed site, she’s been taking in the beauty of it, and talking to the people who live nearby.
“It’s beautiful there,” she said, with a few old growth trees, red legged frogs, salmon and trout calling it home.
But Bales is concerned about the effects the independent power project will have on the habitat. She is hoping that biologist’s and naturalists with knowledge of the area will join the walk, and help her and others become more informed about the area.
“Sakwi Creek is being considered for an IPP project in which the proponents are requesting an exclusion of part the FVRD’s mapping area,” she wrote in an email. “Before that gets voted on in February I would like for people to see this important spawning habitat and tourist area.”
The Harrison Lake area already has a small number of IPPs, and there are a handful more under consideration at the moment. Bales isn’t in support of the projects, which re-route waterfalls into turbines to create power.
“I think we’re going in the wrong direction in looking at what kind of power we’re looking at,” she said. “We should be looking at dry power. Whether that’s solar, or wind, just something different.”
She also believes that the money for creating power would be better spent on fixing old dams around the province that could be producing more power.
“There are old dams all over B.C.,” she said. “Not just a few, a lot. Right now they are already producing a fair bit of energy, and if they were retrofitted they could be producing even more.”
The money to fix those dams will have to be spent eventually, anyway, she added.
“Some of them could be dangerous, because they are so old,” she said.
The problem with IPPS, she says, is that they “cut up the landscape” and create islands of land that may not be sufficient for various wildlife needs.
Bales will be walking the area on February 4 and 11, meeting at the Weaver Creek Hatchery at 10:30 a.m. each day. Weaver Creek Hatchery is about 15 minutes down Morris Valley Road. The walk is an easy one, she says, at just over a mile with a gentle slope.