Photo by Linda HeronPhoto Credit

Lake Shore Gold Timmins West Mine Site – Site Visit Report, Tatachikapika River, by Larry Robichaud

Site Visit Report

Location: Lake Shore Gold Timmins West Mine Site

Date: December 6th 2011

Purpose: Effluent Treatment System Tour


Backgrounder: A report to the Ministry of Environment was submitted on October 27th 2011. The report was entered because of the river bank erosion and native forest deterioration below the end of pipe at the Tatachikapika River effluent discharge from the Timmins West mine. The ensuing intentions of the individual who submitted the report was to engage up front with the mining operation in an effort to find out how the river bank situation was to be fixed and also how the treatment system operates.

Mr. Anthony Makuch President of Lake Shore Gold called me 20 days later with the message that his operation’s management team would contact me within a few days to discuss my degree of participation and interest with regards to resolving the Tatachikapika River bank erosion issue. Continue reading

COSEWIC – Assessment and Status Report on the Atlantic Salmon, Salmo salar, Lake Ontario population in Canada, Extirpated 2006

Recent hydro proposals would represent a widespread privatization of Ontario’s rivers. One striking result of an earlier era of privatization of Ontario’s rivers was the construction of dams that degraded water quality, disrupted flows, and led to the extirpation of the Atlantic Salmon from Lake Ontario.

The COSEWIC report on this population concludes that

“Approximately 40 tributaries of Lake Ontario were known to support runs of Atlantic salmon. Scales obtained from two adult museum specimens indicate an exclusively freshwater growth history, suggesting that the salmon that originally inhabited Lake Ontario was most likely a [completely] freshwater form.

 “The colonization of Upper Canada in the late 1700s led to the demise of the Atlantic salmon in Lake Ontario. As recounted by Lady Simcoe, prior to 1800, the rivers and creeks abounded with salmon; however, during the ensuing years settlers fished heavily with nets and spears and erected dams at the mouths of rivers to support growing industry, all to the detriment of the salmon. …prior to its extirpation, the Atlantic salmon abounded in the tributaries of Lake Ontario. …The last native salmon was thought to have been caught in 1898.

“Many conditions contributed to the decline and ultimate disappearance of the salmon in Lake Ontario; however, most are attributable to the settlement of the basin and the alteration of habitat by timbering, agriculture, dams for mills, and the fishing industries.

“Perhaps of greatest consequence to Atlantic salmon populations over their global range has been the construction of mill and driving dams for the timber trade, as well as dams for tanneries, carding mills and gristmills. These dams were typically built with no provision for fish passage so salmon were prevented from reaching their native spawning grounds. The fish congregating at the base of the dams were vulnerable and more easily captured by fishermen. In many instances, this resulted in complete elimination of runs of Lake Ontario Atlantic salmon.”

Download the entire COSEWIC report.

Map of FIT Contracts in Ontario, by Rob MacGregor

November 12, 2011

Dear Premier McGuinty :

As you are aware from a previous email in early October, I have been trying to obtain a map of FIT contracts offered for waterpower projects for nearly 6 months. Please take the time to review the attached litany of emails from the Ontario Power Authority Fit program based on my simple request. As you will quickly see in reviewing the emails, I can only come to one conclusion; this material is being deliberately withheld. All citizens of Ontario have a right to have this information, as the government of Ontario is managing the natural resources of the province on our behalf. I have patiently awaited this map for more than 6 months; I am now running out of patience and am asking you to assist me in obtaining this information. Continue reading

Here be Giants (Lake Sturgeon)

First overfishing, then hydro dams. Lake sturgeon, Ontario’s largest and longest-lived fish, now belongs to one of the most beleaguered groups of animals on the planet.

By Peter Christie

Tim Haxton shifts his chair to allow his visitor a better view of the photograph on the computer screen. The dark image of a fossilized fish makes a subtle “S” in the lighter brown mud-stone that surrounds the shape. It is as if the creature suddenly turned to stone during a lazy swim through murky water. The petrified details – even the fine rays of fins – are crystal clear, and the identity of the fish is unmistakeable. “Sturgeon,” confirms Haxton, a fisheries specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR). “This one is probably about 200 million years old, from the Jurassic period. They really haven’t changed much in form or function since.”

The soft-spoken biologist has collected hundreds of photos during his 15 years of studying lake sturgeon, Ontario’s largest and longest-lived fish. His picture of the fossil, however, adds an almost mind-boggling historical view to our discussion of sturgeon conservation: close ancestors of this formerly indomitable animal were swimming the world’s waters before the Atlantic Ocean was born, before birds flew and about 200,000 millennia before humans first appeared. They swam right through the great extinction of the dinosaurs and, despite volcanic eruptions, ice ages and other climatic calamities, have overcome every threat they encountered – until now.

Sturgeon today confront a higher risk of extinction than any other non-insect animal in the world, says Haxton, citing the conclusions of a 2010 workshop of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Decimated by periods of overfishing and prized for their eggs, which are sold as expensive caviar, many sturgeon populations around the globe have been in free fall for decades. All 27 sturgeon species – including lake sturgeon – are on the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species. Two-thirds of these are considered “critically endangered” because their plummeting numbers or shrinking, fragmented ranges mean that the odds of this fish disappearing for good are “extremely high.” Four sturgeon species may already be gone forever.

Click to go to Ontario Nature to read rest of article.

Draft American Eel Recovery Strategy – Skip Ross to Bree Walpole – 10 February 2011

From: Skip Ross []
Sent: Thursday, February 10, 2011 11:28 PM

To: ‘’

Subject: Draft American Eel Recovery Strategy

Kwey kwey Ms.Walpole

I am a 78 year old Elder from Pikwakanagan First Nation. I am old enough to remember eels in the Petawawa River and Lake Temagami. My Chief Kirby Whiteduck has written a letter about American Eel that needs to be part of The Eel Recovery Strategy. The eels must return to the Petawawa River as soon as possible since they are the basis for teaching so many things to our young people who have been robbed of the source of their instruction since we Elders can no longer show them the eels in our homeland. The Ontario Government policy about dam development under the Green Energy and Economy Act interferes with the Ontario Government policy to protect the fish in our rivers. The “cash for support” to First Nations who support dam development causes a split in our community among those who want the money and those who want to preserve the eels. It is wrong for the Ontario Government to introduce policies that cause such a split in our communities and tempts some First Nations people to sacrifice the eels by allowing dam development. Continue reading

Wanatango Falls, Frederick House River – Proposed Hydroelectric Dam – Robichaud

November 3rd, 2011

Vanesa Enskaitis
Public Affairs and Stakeholder Relations
Xeneca Power Development Inc.
5255 Yonge Street, Suite 1200
North York, ON M2N 6P4

Re: Wantango Falls on Frederick House River

Dear Ms Enskaitis,

The purpose of this letter is to forward my closing concerns and comments as per the Notice of Completion prescribed review period.
This project is to establish a hydro generating station at “Wanatango Falls” on the Frederick House. The project is being developed by Xeneca Power Development Incorporated. The Notice of Completion under Class EA will reach its deadline of November 4th, 2011 for public and stakeholder participation.

I was able to read the Environmental Assessment report and with the assistance of the folks at Xeneca and NRSI, I managed to get a somewhat clear picture of the present aquatic situation with respect to the known presence of lake sturgeon in the vicinity of the proposed Wanatango project site. I also must admit that the resident biologist at the Cochrane District office of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources was instrumental in helping me broaden my knowledge of migration, habitat usage and the resident population factors for lake sturgeon below Zeverly Rapids a short distance downstream of Wanatango. Continue reading