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General · 7th May 2010
Claire Trevena
B.C. Liberals take one-off approach with no plan to protect B.C. rivers

New Democrats are pleased that the B.C. Liberals have promised to shelve a private power project that threatened to devastate a huge swath of wilderness on B.C.’s mid-coast.

Under questioning in the legislature on Wednesday by New Democrat MLA for North Island Claire Trevena, Environment Minister Barry Penner promised not to allow the Klinaklini River private power project go ahead.

“I have decided that I will not be recommending that the boundaries of the Upper Klinaklini conservancy be amended in order to facilitate this project,” said Penner, referring to the legislative changes that would be required for the proponent to move the controversial project forward.

The project by Kleana Power Corporation proposed for Knight Inlet was one of eight remaining projects in B.C. Hydro’s Clean Power Call, but the utility has now dropped Kleana as an option. It would have generated as much as 800 MW of power at peak flow conditions, and was slated to require a 30 metre high dam and a 10 metre diameter tunnel to divert the river down a 17 kilometre pipe.
“The private power company would have had to build through sensitive conservancies on the central coast,” said Trevena. “By the government’s own admission, it would have affected as much as 57 hectares of riparian habitat, two-thirds of which is old growth forest, as well as red and blue-listed species, and a grizzly bear and moose corridor.”
Michael Sather, New Democrat deputy environment critic, says he is relieved this project will not go ahead, pointing out the massive project would also affect fish in the Klinaklini. “The river diversion proposed by this project would have been devastating to the oolichan and five species of B.C.’s wild salmon that make the Klinaklini River their home,” said Sather.
New Democrat energy critic John Horgan says he hopes the B.C. Liberals can keep their word that conservancy boundaries won’t be moved to accommodate private power projects, and expressed concern about the direction the government has taken on energy production.
“We need an energy plan that ensures responsible power production,” said Horgan. “The B.C. Liberal Clean Energy Act is not that plan. The proposed act would strip the B.C. Utilities Commission of its public oversight responsibilities and introduce political interference to the process.
“The stage is set for the B.C. Liberals to move forward with billions of dollars worth of projects with no public oversight, and to subsidize private power producers as they seek guaranteed private profits while running roughshod over our rivers.”
Carole James and New Democrats have been holding the B.C. Liberals accountable for breaking their word on the HST, and for backtracking on their election promises to protect health care, education, and other vital services.