In May of 2013 the Ontario Rivers Alliance made a Part II Order request on the proposed Trout Lake River Hydroelectric Generating Station, at Big Falls, in the Red Lake area. This proposal seemed to die a natural death with no decision on our Part II request, or activity/movement forward on the project. Here we are now more than 7 years later, and last week we received the correspondence below from the MECP stating that
“As part of our government’s efforts to boost Ontario’s economic recovery after COVID- 19, we have passed the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act, 2020, including amendments to the Environmental Assessment Act.
The changes to the Environmental Assessment Act will allow us to build a strong environmental assessment program that effectively considers the input of local communities and focuses on projects that have the highest impact to the environment. The Act will continue to consider “the protection, conservation and wise management in Ontario of the environment”. A key change made to the Environmental Assessment Act was to limit Part II Order requests to potential adverse impacts of projects to constitutionally protected Aboriginal or treaty rights. All Part II Order requests that were under review which do not pertain to potential adverse impacts on constitutionally protected Aboriginal or treaty rights have been terminated by the amendments.”
The COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act was passed earlier this year, and this legislative amendment is retroactive in its backwards reach to 2013. In spite of the government’s misleading claim that the changes to the EAA “will allow us to build a strong environmental assessment program”, it couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, there is now no mechanism to request a more rigorous environmental assessment, and public consultation and consideration on these risky projects, as well as the ability to make a Part II Order request, is no longer a possibility. There was also no public or Indigenous consultation before the passing of the Economic Recovery Act.
Since early in 2016, the Ontario Rivers Alliance, Thames River Anglers Association and several other partners have advocated for the removal of the Springbank Dam on the Thames River. We are happy to report that the City of London is moving forward with its decommissioning.
A Consulting Engineer will be chosen to complete the detailed design for its decommissioning as per the recommendations outlined in the completed One River Environmental Assessment, with an aim for construction in 2021. We are looking forward to the project moving forward in 2021!
We will keep you informed as the project progresses.
The City of Cambridge is moving forward on a detailed design plan of the new rebuild of Riverside Dam on the Speed River. Construction is planned for 2022 and work set for completion in 2023. Meanwhile, the full price tag won’t be known until the dam’s design plan has been finalized. This dam has been determined to be at “high risk” of failing within the next 2 to 10 years.
ORA worked extensively towards the decommissioning of this dam. Removing the dam would have been much cheaper, safer and healthier for the riverine ecosystem.
“Recycling” by andyarthur is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
Ontarians may have invented the Blue Box, but our current linear, make-use-dispose economy makes it impossible for recycling alone to solve our growing waste problem. Currently, less than seven per cent of Ontario’s waste is recycled through the Blue Box, and 1 the province sends over 8 million tonnes (70 per cent)2 of trash to landfills and incinerators every year.
Instead of exemptions or a more streamlined Class EAW, the OWA should be proposing amendments to provide for a much more rigorous and accountable process that ensures fish friendly turbines, effective and safe fish passage, a more rigorous cumulative effects assessment, and a more comprehensive and meaningful consultation process. We should be making our rivers more resilient in the face of climate change – not exempting waterpower projects from the Class EAW. Instead, the OWA and the Ontario government are placing our environment and communities at risk.
The ORA strongly objects to any approach that eliminates the opportunity for public and Indigenous consultation and input regarding any sewage and stormwater infrastructure projects, especially any expansions or upgrades when they could have a negative environmental impact on the riverine environment and communities.
The motion, presented on Monday night, suggested by the committee calls for North Huron Council to approve an engineering study to determine the future of the dam and set out a schedule for fundraising for the rehabilitation of the structure. If that schedule cannot be met, however, the recommendation calls for the removal of the structure.
Ontario has hundreds, if not thousands of dams that are unsafe and no longer serving any useful purpose. These dams are blocking fish passage, degrading water quality, fragmenting habitat, threatening species at risk and sensitive cold water species. ORA is working to take them out. Check out this excellent overview of the problems with hydropower:
This film explores the evolution of our national attitude from pride in big dams as engineering wonders to the growing awareness that our own future is bound to the life and health of wild rivers. Produced by Matt Stoecker & Travis Rummel Directed by Ben Knight & Travis Rummel.
Finally, the West Credit River is a headwaters tributary of the Credit River and is considered the crown jewel of coldwater brook trout fisheries in Ontario. This fishery significantly adds to the economic and social fabric of the province, with Ontario fisheries contributing a total of approximately $2.5 billion annually to the provincial economy. MNRF’s own documents predict that climate change will reduce the number of watersheds in Ontario with brook trout by 50% by 2050.
Painting by Aleta Karstad
The Chute, Ivanhoe River
The Ontario Rivers Alliance (ORA) is pleased to report that the WWF-Canada and CPAWS have awarded the Glen Davis Conservation Leadership Prize to Dr. Frederick Schueler and Aleta Karstad for their outstanding conservation efforts and accomplishments!! They truly are very deserving of this incredible Prize!!
A BIG CONGRATULATIONS TO Fred and Aleta!!!
We at ORA were eager to nominate Fred and Aleta for this important recognition of the significant sacrifice and contribution they have both made to science, conservation and the protection of freshwater ecosystems and land all across Canada. They have also been long-time partners and contributors of the ORA.