Skeena River Must Not Be Given Away to Private Interests
PRINCE RUPERT— North Coast MLA Gary Coons is gravely concerned about a proposed private power project that has the potential to affect the Skeena River. The project, being proposed by Synex Resources, would be located just east of Port Essingnton, and it would affect both the Skeena and Khyex River.
“The process, as it stands, around the approval of these projects is deeply flawed,” said the North Coast MLA. “Next to no information about the scope and magnitude of this project has been provided. It is impossible to judge, from the land disposition, exactly what is being planned.”
The land disposition is accompanied by several maps, however, they do little to articulate the manner in which power would be produced by the Skeena, and what affect the project would have on salmon and the ecosystems that depend on them.
“There are many concerns about the holes in the regulatory framework used to assess these projects,” Coons said. “Power projects that fall under 50 Megawatts may be “fast tracked” with minimal environmental review, despite the fact that the environmental footprint of hydro, and the road and transmission infrastructure which is needed to support it, is often quite substantial.”
Synex Resources is the parent company of Sigma engineering, the company that was contracted by BC Hydro to detail possible locations for small hydro projects across the province.
Due to a failed IPP project in 2003 by a key Liberal donor, Premier Campbell enacted and passed Bill 30 (Miscellaneous Statutes Amendment Act, section 56) dealing with changes to the Utilities Commission Act.
In May of 2006 Bill 30 put an end to meaningful local input into the approval of private power projects, or to have any say in their own communities future.
Local governments across the province opposed this bill and requested that the bill be set aside, but to no avail. The provincial approval process, due to the Premier’s intervention, is little more than a checklist of items putting our rivers at risk of being privatized and sensitive ecosystems destroyed.
“The simple fact of the matter is that our waterways are too valuable to be sold, lock, stock and barrel, to private interests. I don’t think anyone in this region wants to see the Skeena privatized in any way. Anyone who cares about salmon should be concerned about this project,” said Coons. “There are some things that we shouldn’t tamper with, and the Skeena River is one of them.”
Interested parties have until February 3rd to let the Integrated Land Management Bureau know of their concerns.