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Category Archives: Dams

Trout Lake River Hydroelectric Generating Station, at Big Falls – Update from 2013

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.

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Springbank Dam Decommissioning – Update

Photo by Paul Roedding Photography

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.


Update: Riverside Dam on the Speed River

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.

Articles:
Riverside Dam construction delayed to 2022 with higher price tag, CBC News, 8 Sept 2020
Cambridge Council gives go-ahead to plan for Riverside repairs, CTV News, 8 Sept 2020


Updates: Howson Dam, North Maitland River

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.

Articles:
North Huron Council approves engineering study on Howson Dam, 9 July 2020
‘It’s going to be black or white’: North Huron council approves funding Howson Dam committee to speak to engineers, experts, 9 July 2020


The Problem with Hydropower – Damnation Trailer

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.

Congratulations to Aleta Karstad and Dr. Frederick Schueler – Recipients of the Glen Davis Conservation Leadership Prize

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.

Read the Press Release: Continue reading


Mattagami River – Little Long Dam Safety Project

The effects of dams and hydroelectric facilities on fish populations and fisheries have been well documented over the past century and include the loss or serious decline of many iconic fish species, which are resources of importance to Ontario’s economy, biodiversity, and natural and cultural heritage.

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Fright & Flight Zone, by Laurent Robichaud

Since 1963 the Little Long Generating Complex on the Lower Mattagami River in Northern Ontario has been the source of an environmental crisis of immeasurable proportions. Thousands of Lake Sturgeon have been entrained through spillway gates and left stranded waiting to be captured and relocated back to their adopted man-made habitat, leaving waters not fit for survival. Adam Creek Spillway is well known province-wide as a thorn in hydro electric energy and should not be defined or qualified as GREEN energy.

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Media Release: Putting the ‘Blue’ Back in the ‘Green’ City

GUELPH –On September 10th, with the sounds of a jackhammer hammering in the background, the Hanlon Creek monitoring weir was removed within Preservation Park in the City of Guelph. The motivation behind the removal of the weir was multi-purpose. The project objectives were to remove the weir to improve the ability of fish to migrate upstream, while simultaneously lowering the upstream water level, which will narrow the channel and result in cooler stream temperatures.

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Hanlon Creek Weir Removal Project – Complete

It’s done – the barrier to fish passage has been removed.

I’m happy to report that the Hanlon Creek Weir Removal Project was completed today!!  The middle portion of the weir has been removed and the stream bed rehabilitated.  Brook Trout are now able to access an additional 3.6 km of coldwater habitat and the stream has been made more resilient to a warming climate.

Warm thanks to all our volunteers and supporters for your generosity and caring!

A great article in the 8 September 2019 edition of the Guelph Today:
Community fills 3-tonnes of sandbags to kick start the Hanlon Creek Weir Removal project