FRENCH RIVER DELTA ASSOCIATION
RR 2 Site 10 Comp 4
Alban, Ontario P0M 1A0
February 5, 2013
The Honourable Kathleen Wynne
Room 281, Main Legislative Building
Toronto, Ontario M7A 1A1
E-mail – [email protected]
Dear Ms. Wynne
Re: Your transition team
Firstly, the French River Delta Association wishes to congratulate you on winning the Liberal leadership contest and becoming our Premier-designate. We look forward to your term of office.
The French River Delta Association consists of the cottagers and local business owners who depend on the French River ecosystem. We are committed to ensuring that this ecosystem is sustained for future generations.
Our concerns about your transition team – Mr. Arnold Chan
French River Delta Association members had fervently hoped that the transition from Mr. McGuinty’s governance to yours would create a clean slate and lead to a model of governance that includes fairness, transparency and verifiable legitimate decisions.
However, we are concerned that, with the inclusion of Mr. Arnold Chan on your transition team, it is possible that politically connected corporations could unfairly influence decisions of policy-makers and regulatory agencies in Ontario, especially concerning the critical area of energy generation.
It is our position that Mr., Chan, as Vice President, Aboriginal Affairs and General Counsel of Xeneca Power Development Inc., represents the interests of that highly controversial, heavily subsidized corporation, which is proposing a hydro electric project in our area – the Allen & Struthers Wanapitei River Hydro Electric Generating Station. While hydro electric dams may be seen as green in Toronto, we in the North know that they are not feasible in all areas.
Background – Xeneca project threatens northern habitat and natural capital
In our area, Xeneca’s Allen & Struthers Wanapitei River Hydro Electric Generating Station project threatens with destruction the following:
1. An ecosystem that supports multiple endangered species
2. The spawning and nursery habitat of valued fish
3. The ecological integrity of a Provincial Park
4. The water quality of the French River Delta
5. The economic viability of the local economy
6. The safety of the fish as a food via increases in methyl mercury
For these legitimate local concerns, Xeneca faces fierce opposition. The Municipalities of Killarney and French River, the members of the French River Delta Association and the French River Stewardship Council, as well as Henvey Inlet First Nation are united and have been saying for over two years, NO, do not develop the Allen-Struthers Sturgeon Chute project.
Since August 2010 we have tried to engage the local regulatory authorities and have met with policy makers in Toronto and Peterborough. We have been stonewalled, referred from agency to agency, and finally were told that the Premier makes the ultimate decision. This does not meet the standards required by a government committed to good governance.
Further support for our position
While we have been pressing our case that destroying this habitat and natural capital in exchange for a minimal amount of electricity, the Ministry of Natural Resources has recommended and is proceeding to remove a dam on the Black Sturgeon River,1 which happens to be in the riding of Mr. Michael Gravelle’s, the current Minister of Natural Resources. The reasons for removal – fishery collapse, habitat loss, and local socio-economic losses.
The Black Sturgeon River report highlights the serious and legitimate concerns we have been expressing for over two years. The proposed Xeneca development in our area would be an environmental and socio-economic calamity for the Municipality of Killarney.
Support for our concerns is also clearly stated in The Beautiful Lake report,2 which addresses the recommendations of a bi-national biodiversity conservation strategy for Lake Ontario:
Recommendation #3: Restore Connections and Natural Hydrology
Strategy 3.1: Remove or mitigate the impact of priority dams and barriers to restore fish passage and natural processes.
Strategy 3.2: Enhance environmental guidelines for siting and operations of all new hydropower facilities.
Strategy 3.3: Restore more natural hydrologic periodicity to Lake Ontario through a new regulation plan, and monitor impacts on coastal habitats.
Mr. Chan, a registered lobbyist, has a direct economic interest in our, and many other projects in Northern Ontario, and in our opinion is in a conflict of interest position in relation to these matters. Accordingly, we request that Mr. Chan recuse himself from any discussions and plans the transition team engages in concerning natural resource development, modernizing regulatory control, and economic development in Northern Ontario.
To preclude Mr. Chan from these discussions will send Northern residents and Municipalities a clear message: That the government cares about the natural resources, ecological integrity and the socio-economic health of the North. These will NOT be sacrificed or compromised in any way to satisfy corporate interests or interests of urban Ontario.
We would appreciate meeting with you at your earliest convenience to discuss our concerns and share information with you.
Cc: Mr. Arnold Chan – [email protected]
1 Furlong P et al. Black Sturgeon River Dam: A barrier to the rehabilitation of Black Bay walleye. Upper Great Lakes Management Unit – Lake Superior Technical Report No. 06-03 (2006) at http://www.thunderbayfishing.com/blacksturgeonreport.pdf . See also Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Northwest Region Planning Unit. Black Bay & Black Sturgeon River Native Fisheries Rehabilitation —
Decommissioning of the Camp 43 dam and construction of a multi-purpose sea lamprey barrier at Eskwanonwatin Lake. Project Description. November 2012. At http://www.mnr.gov.on.ca/stdprodconsume/groups/lr/@mnr/@letsfish/documents/document/stdprod_101373.pdf
2 The Beautiful Lake – A Binational Biodiversity Conservation Strategy for Lake Ontario (2009). This was prepared by the Lake Ontario Biodiversity Conservation Strategy Working Group in cooperation with the US – Canada Lake Ontario Lakewide management Plan. at http://www.epa.gov/greatlakes/lakeont/reports/lo_biodiversity.pdf