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
Ontario Rivers Alliance (ORA) is a Not-for-Profit grassroots organization with a focus on healthy river ecosystems all across Ontario. ORA members represent numerous organizations such as the Vermilion River Stewardship, French River Delta Association, CPAWS-Ottawa Valley, Whitewater Ontario, Mississippi Riverwatchers, along with many other stewardships, associations, and private and First Nations citizens, who have come together to ensure the rash of waterpower proposals currently going through the approvals process are environmentally, economically and socially sustainable.
We all want Green Energy, but let’s ensure it is truly Green, and not the “Green-washed” version that is being proposed for many Ontario rivers. Let’s ensure that efficiencies and upgrades are made to existing hydroelectric dams before new ones are built. Let’s ensure fish passage and fish friendly turbines are installed.
Climate change is upon us, and WATER is quickly becoming our gravest concern. Let’s ensure river developments take into account the best advice of climate scientists, and are sustainable for many years to come.
So What’s the Dam Problem?
Ontario rivers are being placed at risk by a rash of over 45 hydroelectric proposals that have been awarded FIT Contracts, and are moving through the permitting and approvals process. The Green Energy Act with its accompanying FIT Program is the only thing that has made many of these rivers feasible for waterpower development. The proponent can’t be told to stand down, and gets paid a 50% bonus for whatever power they can generate – with a 50% bonus to produce power during peak demand. This encourages developers to maximize power at the expense of the environment and public health and safety.
Ontario Rivers are in trouble because our government has put the developer in charge of the Environmental Assessment process, instead of the MOE and MNR, and there is no possibility of a “no outcome” – effectively placing the FOX in charge of the chicken coop!
Hydroelectric is not “Green” when river flow is held back in head ponds – it is in fact “Dirty Energy”.
1. Bad for the River Ecosystem:
Dams that hold water back in headponds result in:
- Degraded water quality
- Lower downstream water levels and flows
- Lower oxygen levels
- Increased mercury in fish tissue – studies show a 10 to 20 times increase
- Increased nitrate and phosphorus levels
- Warming of water – sound like a recipe for more algae?
2. Bad for Fishermen & Snowmobilers:
- Turbines chop up and kill Fish and Eels
- Fish migration for spawning is blocked
- Prime Spawning areas are destroyed
- Entire species of fish are threatened
- Rapid rise and fall of river water levels on daily basis makes ice unsafe for ice fishermen & snowmobilers
3. Bad for Our Health & Safety:
- Increased mercury in fish tissue resulting in fish consumption restrictions
- Conditions created by dams & their headponds can result in increased incidences of toxic blue-green algae
- Many people rely on river water for their drinking water and daily household needs
- Dams can fail from extreme weather events and flooding
- Rapidly changing water levels and flow velocity can put fishermen, swimmers and boaters at risk
4. Bad for the Community & Local Economy:
Ontario Rivers offer a thriving eco-tourism opportunity for small businesses:
- Prime fishing and tourist viewing areas are destroyed
- Decline in fish populations, especially cold-water species
- Habitat destroyed
- Pristine and unique features are replaced with a concrete dam, chain link fence and warning sirens
- Rivers with cycling or peaking hydroelectric dams make boating, swimming, fishing, and ice recreation unsafe within zone of influence
- Tourists will not travel hundreds of miles to see where rapids, waterfalls and fish used to be
We invite you to join us in our mission.
“Our future generations are depending on us.”
Well there are several problems, but we may as well start with the root of the problem, and that is a provincial government bent on building its reputation as a Green Energy leader, and attracting big business into this Province to exploit its resources and sell off Crown land to private companies. Democracy for the people and protecting our environment and natural resources isn’t high on their list of priorities. “Ontario is open for business.”
Currently there are 86 hydroelectric dam proposals going through the approvals process in the Province of Ontario, and the 2005 Hatch Acres Report lists about 600 potential sites. Many of these dams are slated for “modified peaking”, a method of holding water back for up to 48 hours in head ponds, for release during peak demand hours. So that leads us to the next on our list of problems…. Continue reading
This survey ended on May 20, 2014. Prize winners were:
1st Draw Prize Winner was Diane Robinson
2nd Draw Prize Winner was Cornelia Granbery
Thank you to all those who participated in our Survey and Strategic Plan!!
ORA is engaged in a strategic planning process designed to make our organization more effective, more responsive to member needs, and to better enable us in our mission to address the issues that face Ontario river ecosystems.
Anyone completing the survey was included in a draw for a chance to win one of two Reproductions on Canvas by Brigitte Bere, a local Sudbury Artist.
A BIG THANK YOU TO MOUNTAIN EQUIPMENT COOP FOR YOUR SUPPORT!!
1st Draw Prize: “Gossip” – Reproduction on Canvas 10″ x 12″
2nd Draw Prize: “House in Kagawong” – Reproduction on Canvas – 10″ x 10″
Brigitte is an amazing artist, and has offered these reproductions of her work to help promote our survey! Thank you so much for your generosity Brigitte!
TransCanada is proposing to build the Energy East Pipeline which would carry tar sands oil in the form of DilBit or crude oil, from Alberta to New Brunswick. This would entail converting 3,000 kilometres (km) of existing natural gas pipeline in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario, and building over 1,500 km of new pipeline through Quebec and New Brunswick.
ORA’s Comments: Continue reading
ORA offers our support on the proposal to enact an Invasive Species Act (Bill 167), and to emphasize the importance of a proactive approach to minimize the possibility of intentional and unintentional introductions of alien and invasive species, and of mitigating the effects of species that have already been introduced.
For the Invasive Species Act to be effective, it is important that this legislation is accompanied by invasive species policies and implementation plans, along with collaboration between the Ontario government, ministries, agencies, municipalities and federal authorities, along with adequate funding, staff and required resources that are dedicated to the successful application of the policies and action plans. It is crucial that invasive species policy be incorporated into all decision-making processes throughout all pertinent government agencies in order to protect the economic, social and ecological integrity within all of Canada. Continue reading
“ORA respectfully offer our comments as prescribed in the Canada Gazette as listed above.
The proposed Regulations Establishing Conditions for Making Regulations under Subsection 36(5.2) of the Fisheries Act (Regulation) fundamentally alters the intent and enforceability of one of Canada’s most important federal laws. There has also been no meaningful, transparent and open process, or effort made to consult with the general public and stakeholders. As a result of the Government of Canada’s failure to consult with Canadians and those with expertise on this issue, both the Regulation and the supporting Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement are seriously flawed.
The sweeping changes to the Fisheries Act which were introduced in 2012 have weakened one of Canada’s most important and effective water and fisheries protection laws. This has provided opportunities for government to exempt industrial and resource development from federal rules.
The proposed Regulation lacks clarity and consistency, and amounts to an abdication of its federal responsibly for protecting fish, habitat and waterways in Canada. The contradictory regulatory scheme would make it impossible for any government regulator to fulfill the purpose of the Act, which is to “provide for the sustainability and ongoing productivity of commercial, recreational and Aboriginal fisheries”….. Continue reading
Posted 8 March 2014
This and other changes are underway thanks to a recent grant from Mountain Equipment Co-op.
In November 2013, ORA received a capacity-building grant from Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC). The $35,000 grant is enabling ORA to undertake several initiatives aimed at increasing our effectiveness as an organization. Project activities include strategic and fundraising planning, rebranding, website development, and outreach/membership development.
Developing a strategic plan will enable ORA to set priorities and goals based on our mission, and the needs of our member organizations. The planning process began in December with a survey of ORA members and others who have shown an interest in our activities. We are grateful to those people who shared their opinions and ideas, as the results will help inform the development of a draft plan. The draft will be refined by board members over the course of several months, followed by a consultation session at our General Meeting in June with invited stakeholders. ORA is working with the Sudbury Social Planning Council to complete the plan, and it will be finalized by the early fall.
Another goal of the project is to develop a fundraising plan to outline ways to ensure adequate resources are in place to meet the goals in the strategic plan. Those goals will require increased human resources. Since it was founded in 2011, ORA has operated almost entirely through the diligent efforts of volunteers. The MEC grant has made it possible to hire a consultant for some key functions, taking pressure off volunteers and making the organization more sustainable in the long-term. We have started working to increase ORA’s human resources, with two major grant applications under way. If successful, ORA will be able to hire a full-time Director of Rivers and a Communication and Outreach Coordinator.
The MEC funds are also supporting rebranding, website redesign and membership development activities, all of which are also in progress and are aimed at building and strengthening our support base for the future. Our new logo above was designed by Studio 123 – a talented design firm that is making its mark in the Sudbury area.
The capacity building grant is part of MEC’s larger Community Contributions initiative. Through Capacity Building grants ranging from $5,000 to $35,000, MEC supports grassroots conservation organizations and activity-based organizations by providing funding that will help strengthen their effectiveness. MEC’s Community Contributions program helps keep space for adventure by conserving ecologically and recreationally important places, and by inspiring and enabling Canadians to be active outside. As a member of 1% For The Planet, MEC invests one percent of its annual revenue to environmental causes.
A big thank you to MEC for this important grant!
ORA would also like to thank Marcus Clement for the great logo he created for us back in 2011. It served us very well for our first three years of operation! Thank you Marcus!
“American Eels were once abundant in the upper St. Lawrence River, Ottawa River, Lake Ontario, and their tributaries, and in fact were so plentiful that they were an invaluable source of sustenance to First Nation communities and early European settlers, and more recently supported thriving commercial and sports fisheries. This all changed with the advent of a multitude of hydroelectric dams constructed within the historic range of the species.
Key to the American Eel’s survival and recovery is its ability to migrate to its spawning area in the Sargasso Sea, near Bermuda. This is a perilous journey that only a very small percentage ever complete due to the cumulative effects of the numerous hydroelectric facilities that have killed, maimed, and cut off migration to their spawning area. Consequently their once thriving populations have been reduced to a mere one percent of their original numbers.” Continue reading