French River Delta Association
Briefing Notes re apprehension about the hydro electric dam in Allen-Struthers
We are a group of local cottage and resort/marina operators and other members at large whose major focus is the environment. Our association is very worried about the impact of the green Energy Act (2009) implications for Northern Ontario as well as our local habitat and environment.
This Act which was passed into law has some laudable objectives:
- to encourage the growth in clean and renewable energy sources
- to achieve major savings in energy use
- to create 50,000 new jobs in Ontario
To bring about these changes, the government is offering very generous incentives with the program called the Feed In Tariff program. Of major concern to the Delta association is the use of new small hydro electric installations to generate electric power. Of particular concern is, the environmental and monetary exemptions in the act for projects that may make a major economic contribution to the province. Although public consultation must take place, no rules have been set out on how this must be done. (very little public information has been put forth by the project proponents) While the Act does recognize the need for proper decommissioning plans it does not require decommissioning bonds. Local Municipalities have been removed from the decision making process. Local MNR and MOE branches are being told that the decisions are being made in Toronto. Local stakeholders have not been properly consulted during the development stage of this act. The Act in its present form, and the way that it is currently being interpreted and implemented, in our opinion, leaves Northern Ontario’s environment and economy to be raped and pillaged for the benefit of few. We have concerns that by circumventing the environmental aspects (the endangered species list and species at risk) in depth environmental assessments will not be required on a broad scale. 46 Water Power Feed in Tariff contracts have been offered in Northern Ontario, 32 of which are in the North East region.
For example, our local proposed project – Allen Struthers – is located on the Wanapitei River at the Sturgeon Chutes. Our Association concerns are:
- Water Quality – With blue green algae already a major concern, nutrient loading may be increased by the proposed development.
- The Fishery – The Sturgeon Chutes is the largest spawning site in the French River Delta for Walleye, sturgeon, and three species of salmonids.
- Accessibility – Habitat protection will be adversely impacted by the building of a road and power line to this site (is the power line and road included in the EA?)
- Public Safety and Security – The dam’s day to day operation may put wilderness users at higher risk of death or injury.
- Tourism – Fishing is the major tourist attraction of this area. If the fish are gone, so will the tourism.
Even though our focus has been on the site at the Wanapitei River since it is in our back yard, our concerns should be shared by all Northern Ontario stakeholders affected by these projects. We ask, is it in our best interest to cede control of nine public waterways to one private company?
For further information please contact:
Jim Rook, President
French River Delta Association