Dear Mayor Becotte;
I’m writing you today to encourage you and the Citizens of Harrison to get involved and educated on the many Independent Power Projects being planned for your backyard. As a business owner and kayaker living in Abbotsford, I have seen first hand the type of impact these so-called Green Energy Projects can have on both the environment and the local communities. Being a town that thrives on tourism, I think the potential loss of recreation in your backyard is something you should be very concerned about.
I own and operate a paddle sports store in Abbotsford that manufactures, sells and teaches lessons for canoeing and kayaking. The Big Silver Watershed, located at the north end of Harrison Lake, has for a long time been a draw for paddlers not only from all over BC but all over the world. The Kookipi Forest Service Road that connects the Big Silver Valley and Nahatlatch River Valley make for a very unique paddling destination. I have sold and rented dozens of kayaks to people over the last couple of years going to do what is now becoming known as the Big Silver Nahatlatch circuit. The town of Harrison is either the first or last stop for many paddlers embarking on these adventures.
I realize that paddling is not the big picture here. These private for profit companies that build and operate these projects in the past have had little regard for the environment and social impacts on the local communities, and why would they, most of them are not local companies let alone Canadian companies. The bigger picture here is the impact that these projects could leave on the sensitive ecosystems, fish habitat and tourism that your community relies so heavily on.
The company proposing the latest round of Run-of-River projects or Ruin-of-River projects as many locals have come to name them, seems to be interested in building a sustainable and responsible project. I, however, don’t believe that this will happen without input and oversight from the communities around them. The Environmental Assessment Office that is responsible for permitting and regulating these projects is greatly under staffed and over worked. If “for profit” private companies are allowed to operate however they wish with our natural resources, they will usually resort to what they are good at, and that is making a profit, often at the expense of the communities and environment.
I do believe these projects can be built to a higher standard and one day actually be a source of responsible green energy. I think though it will take a strong showing of solidarity by the local people and deep involvement to make this happen. These companies are required to mitigate any loss’s that their projects may have on the different users. They will not volunteer this though and it is up to you and the public to encourage the Environmental Assessment Office and other government agencies involved in the permitting process to ensure this happens.
I hope through greater awareness and understanding of their rights the people of Harrison and surrounding communities can ensure that these projects are mutually beneficial for both the companies proposing these projects as well as the citizens and wildlife that rightfully own and use them.
For more information on these projects please visit these sites.
Thank you for your time, and if I can be of any service helping you understand how the impacts of this project will affect me as well as your community, please don’t hesitate to ask.