Rapid expansion of hydro projects a concern in B.C.

REVELSTOKE, BRITISH COLUMBIA - A private company has filed for the right to divert water from the Illecillewaet River, a tributary of the Columbia River, to produce electricity.

The application by Chasm Power Corporation is among dozens of proposed hydroelectric projects in the interior of British Columbia as part of the provincial government’s goal of boosting electrical production.

The Revelstoke Times Review notes concern among environmentalists.

The river in question provides habitat for bull trout, a species with declining populations, says Sarah Newton, director of the North Columbia Environmental Society.

There are also concerns about secondary impacts, such as the disruption to grizzly and mountain caribou populations caused by clearing of trees for new transmission lines.

Norm MacDonald, an elected representative, disagrees with the provincial government’s strategy.

“You have these private power projects being put in place without an overall plan. In my constituency there are 26 proposed projects. Individually, some of them may make sense, but as a whole it is a disastrous policy environmentally as well as economically,” he said.

He also objects to the lack of local say-so in new hydroelectric projects.


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