ORA has seen few dams that attract tourists to a town, but large healthy rivers and fisheries appear to be more attractive, especially to anglers and canoeists, that can bring additional tourist dollars into the community.
On September 28, 2018, you requested, on behalf of the Ontario Rivers Alliance and other partners, that the City be required to prepare an individual environmental assessment for the replacement of Riverside Dam. I am taking this opportunity to inform you that I have decided that elevating the project to an individual environmental assessment is not required.
ORA understands the pressure municipalities are under when communities rally to maintain or rebuild their beloved mill ponds. However, it is up to all authorities and municipalities to take a leadership role that places public safety and landscape scale ecological integrity above local individual or group interests.
On 23 – 24 June of 2017, the upstream Gorrie Dam failed and the Howson Dam was at capacity during an extreme rain event and flood when 175 mm of rain fell in just 7 hours, placing more than 150 property owners at risk and resulting in an estimated $11-million in damages in the Town of Harriston. This severe rain event broke previous records by approximately 40% and was the second highest flow on the North Maitland in the 48 years of record. Fortunately, no one was killed; however, it could have been much worse, as in October of 2015, when a South Carolina flood breached 18 dams, and resulted in 16 deaths.
Drought conditions could place additional stress on riverine ecosystems, while more extreme rainfall will heighten the risk of dam failures (18 dams were breached in a South Carolina flood in October of 2015) with rapid release of high volumes of water. There have also been recent dam failures right here in Ontario – the Gorrie Dam failure last year in Wingham was the most recent, putting more than 150 property owners at risk.
The City of London’s Civic Works Committee has made a decision on the recommended preferred option of a “Free Flowing River”. As the London Free Press said, “After a unanimous vote to recommend decommissioning the dam at Tuesday’s civic works committee, when and how to do it could be the next chapter in the city’s Springbank dam saga. There’s still a rubber-stamping needed from city council next week, but the writing clearly is on the wall”.
The Thames River Anglers Association and the Ontario Rivers Alliance have continued to lobby through many channels to achieve this preferred outcome. In January of 2016 we rallied the support of over 20 organizations representing more than 200,000 members to encourage the City of London to fully decommission Springbank Dam and protect the recovering riverine ecosystem. Again, on January 9th of this year we submitted a joint letter of support to the Civic Works Committee from 16 organizations, businesses and stakeholder individuals – see below: Continue reading
The American Eel Needs Your Help! You have an opportunity to support the recovery of a species that has declined by 99% of its original population, has been completely extirpated from extensive areas of its native Ontario range, and is in steep decline where it still exists. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry has prepared a Draft Government Response Station for the Recovery of the American Eel in Ontario, and you have until January 11th to sign the Petition below. More information can be found here. To add your own comments just click on the letter and type. Thank you for your help! Continue reading
Trout Unlimited Canada and the Ontario Rivers Alliance are requesting the County of Wellington Warden and Councillors consider supporting the decommissioning of the Hillsburgh Dam with an offline pond, which is the preferred alternative from a natural heritage perspective. This would provide positive environmental benefits to the West Credit River ecosystem, provide resilience to climate change, and support a multi-species ecosystem-based recovery initiative for the long-term. Including updates: Continue reading
ORA is pleased to comment on the options being considered by the Town of Erin (Town) for the Hillsburgh Dam and Bridge located along Station Street, approximately 150m west of Trafalgar Road, crossing the Upper West Credit River, in Hillsburgh. The Town has initiated a Municipal Class B Environmental Assessment to review the options and identify the preferred alternatives to both the deterioration of the bridge and a permanent solution for the dam.
ORA recommends either of Alternatives C or D, Option 2, offered in the Preliminary Comparison and Ranking of Alternatives chart for the following reasons: Continue reading
Ontario Rivers Alliance (ORA) is pleased to announce its participation in the Rudd Dam Removal Project, on the West Credit River, a headwaters tributary of the Credit River, in Hillsburgh. In February, ORA was invited to become a member of a collaboration of partners that make up The Rudd Dam Steering Committee, consisting of the landowner, Martin Rudd, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Trout Unlimited Canada, Credit Valley Conservation Authority, Isaac Walton Fly Fishing Club, the Town of Erin, and Greck and Associates Ltd. Continue reading