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ORA Comments to Xeneca – Four Slide Falls, Serpent River

2011, September 22:

Summary:

The CEAA, 4.(2) states, “In the administration of this Act, the Government of Canada, the Minister, the Agency and all bodies to the provisions of this Act, including federal authorities and responsible authorities, shall exercise their powers in a manner that protects the environment and human health and applies the precautionary principle.”

Four Slide GS Environmental Assessment Report is incomplete as there are still field studies to be completed, and public consultations that must take place, before approval should be granted. For the many reasons listed above, this type of “modified peaking run-of-river” hydro-electric dam is very harmful to a riverine ecosystem, both upstream and downstream; and when you have two or more dams on one river, the negative cumulative effects are only amplified, and must always be considered together as one.

In order to meet the intent and spirit of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act, the ORA requests that Xeneca meet their legal obligations under this legislation, and address the proposed Four Slide Falls GS, and McCarthy Chute GS, under one Environmental Assessment Report, and also take into account the existing Camp Lake Serpent River GS and Serpent River First Nation GS.

The cumulative effects of all facilities, water management practices, roads, transmission lines, diversions, as well as all resulting “Identified Residual Effects”, must be considered with a precautionary approach in order to protect the well-being of the Serpent River community, the environment, and the riverine ecosystem; and to comply with the EAA and the CEAA. These types of proposals must not be fast tracked, or policy and procedure skipped – there is too much at stake!

The experience of the ORA and the public in our dealings with Xeneca, has been challenging to say the least, and yet we have asked Xeneca to show their willingness to be cooperative by providing the ER reports in an unsecured format to aid in our commenting. However, not only have unsecured documents not been provided, but shortly after ORA informed Xeneca of our intent to comment on the Four Slide Falls GS ER, Xeneca demonstrated its unwillingness to cooperate by withdrawing information from the Serpent River ER. Appendix D and E were removed from Xeneca’s website and replaced with reduced versions, where

  • Appendix D, Public Consultation – Xeneca removed 78 pdf pages; and
  • Appendix E, Aboriginal Consultation – Xeneca removed 38 pdf pages.

Profits should never be maximized at the expense of the health and well-being of the community, or the riverine ecosystem. Continue reading


The Ecosystem Approach to Valuing Economic Resources

The physical environment has a profound effect on the way in which we live our daily lives. Environmental resources have huge value both in and of their own right, and because of the direct benefits that they provide humans. Often the need for economic development and the preservation of environmental quality appear to be in competition with each other, particular when ‘economic’ development is narrowly defined as ‘financial’ development. There is growing recognition in global governance that when the full value of the environment is considered, rather than just the part that can easily be measured in monetary terms, governments tend to approve different types of development projects. In 2001 the United Nations began a comprehensive assessment of the consequence of ecosystem change on human well-being. They concluded that governments should work to ensure that the negative trade-offs between economic development and environmental degradation were minimized and that governments actively seek synergies between environmental and economic outcomes.

One tangible way to implement these recommendations in policy making is by using an ecosystem services approach to environmental valuation. This allows you to explicitly recognize and value the broad range of benefits that we and future generations receive from the environment. Traditional assessments of environmental value are often restricted to a consideration of the ‘use value’ of an environmental asset – for example how much hydroelectric revenue could be generated by damming a river – whilst ignoring the broad range of benefits that would result from leaving the river undammed. These benefits include the opportunity to undertake alternative development projects in the future (‘option value’), and a wide range of ‘non-use values’ including the importance of bequeathing a good quality environment to future generations, explicitly recognizing the cultural importance of the natural environment, particularly in our Aboriginal communities, and also the important role played by healthy and resilient ecosystem in mediating severe weather events. Continue reading


Whitewater Ontario – Position Statement – Petawawa River

To: DFO – CEA Registry Office -Central & Arctic Region – Ontario Area

To: Mark Holmes / Uwe Roeper, Xeneca Power Development Inc.

To: Kelly Thompson, A/Manager, Navigable Waters Protection, Transport Canada

To: Joanna Samson, Water Resources Coordinator, Ministry of Natural Resources – Pembroke

Cc: Vanessa Enskaitis, Petawawa River Rats, Mayor of Petawawa Bob Sweet, Community Alliance to Save the Petawawa, Whitewater Ontario Members

May 20, 2011

Re: CEAA Registry Number: 11-01-61006 Big Eddy Hydro Project on the Petawawa River.

Whitewater Ontario (WO) is a volunteer-driven organization uniting, supporting, and sustaining the inclusive development of the whitewater paddling community and resources. Our diverse membership of over 400 includes recreational paddlers, high performance slalom athletes, open boaters, and freestyle competitors.  While our membership is diverse and representative of many whitewater disciplines, members of Whitewater Ontario share a common belief about river access and the preservation of existing waterways for current and future generations.  Our membership encompasses both current and future users of the Petawawa River for recreational purposes, including but not limited to navigation.

USAGE

The Petawawa River, as it flows through the Town of Petawawa is a well-known, world-class destination for whitewater boating enthusiasts.  It provides a training facility for our Olympic athletes, as well as many members of the Canadian kayak and canoeing teams.  Informal data gathering has been able to identify approximately 5000 person trips per year; by recreational boaters, for commercial rafting, by competitive athletes and by community groups such as the Boy Scouts of Canada, the YMCA Canoe Camping Club and the Alpine Club of Canada. The river also provides a training ground for members of the Canadian Forces.  Read More.


CASP to Xeneca – Petawawa River, Big Eddy

September 15, 2011

Xeneca Power Development Inc.
Attention: Mr. Patrick Gillette
President and Chief Executive Officer

Mr. Gillette:

This letter is a follow-up to the following two pieces of correspondence sent previously by this organisation:

1. “Questions Pertaining to the Big Eddy Generating Station” transmitted by email on February 3, 2011; and

2. “Concern with your company’s implementation of the Class Environmental Assessment process on the Big Eddy small waterpower project”, dated February 22, 2011.

You responded to the first of these pieces of correspondence after a fashion in the document “Frequently Asked Questions: Proposed Big Eddy Project at Railroad Rapids”, posted on your website around May 31, 2011. The second item has only received a brief form email acknowledging receipt.

Since the description of the project has changed quite a bit since early this year, and some of our earlier concerns are no longer applicable, we felt it might be useful to update these earlier pieces of correspondence in the light of our current understanding of the project.

Questions:

Continue reading


Larder and Raven Hydroelectric Generating Station, Larder River, McFadden Township – Notice of Commencement

NOTICE OF COMMENCEMENT

of an Environmental Assessment

Larder and Raven Hydroelectric Generating Station, Larder River, McFadden Township

Raven Falls (ON)

June 8, 2011 — Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Transport Canada are required to ensure that a screening is conducted commencing on May 27, 2011 in relation to the development proposal: Larder and Raven Hydroelectric Generating Station, Larder River, McFadden Township.

Xeneca Power Development Inc. is proposing to construct and operate a hydroelectric generating station on the Larder River, immediately upstream of Raven Falls, 100 m upstream of the existing Raven Dam and 1.4 km downstream of the existing Larder Lake Control Dam, located in the Township of McFadden, District of Timiskaming. The proposed development would be operated as a run-of-river facility with some daily flow modifications and will have a generating capacity of 1.25 MW. The project would involve the construction of an earthen dam with a central concrete sluice gate as well as an intake that would direct water through a penstock to the powerhouse. The facility would capture 18 m of surveyed gross head and would result in the flooding of approximately 22 ha of riparian lands up to 1.9 km upstream of the dam. In association with the new development, the Raven Dam and the Larder Lake Control Dam will be removed, modified, replaced or otherwise decommissioned. The proposed project would connect to the electrical grid via a new 44 kV power line, supported by wooden piles, approximately 16 km in length. The required right-of-way for the power line corridor would extend from 10-30 m dependant on site characteristics. One pad mount transformer would be required. Access to the proposed site would require upgrading 1.8 km of existing road east of Highway 624 and the construction of 7.3 km of new access road, running east from the highway. Continue reading


Wabagishik Rapids, Vermilion River, Township of Foster – Notice of Commencement

NOTICE OF COMMENCEMENT

of an Environmental Assessment

Waterpower Generating Station, Wabagishik Rapids, Vermilion River, Township of Foster

Wabagishik Lake (ON)

June 30, 2011 — Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Transport Canada are required to ensure that a screening is conducted commencing on June 29, 2011 in relation to the development proposal: Waterpower Generating Station, Wabagishik Rapids, Vermilion River, Township of Foster.

Xeneca Power Development Inc. is proposing to construct and operate a hydroelectric generating station on the Vermilion River at Wabagishik Rapids, located approximately 600 m downstream of Wabagishik Lake in the Township of Foster, west of the City of Sudbury. The proposed development would be operated as a run-of-river facility with some daily flow modifications and will have a generating capacity of 3.4 MW. The project would involve the construction of a 132 m long dam, including a 43 m long concrete control spillway. A conveyance system consisting of a 40 m long open approach channel and a 130 m long open tailrace channel would be required to divert flows from the Vermilion River to the powerhouse. The facility would capture 6.1 m of surveyed gross head and would result in the flooding of approximately 1.6 ha of riparian lands up to 1 km upstream of the dam. The extent of area downstream of the facility influenced by changing water flows associated with operation is yet to be determined, pending results of hydrologic modeling. The proposed project would connect to the electrical grid via a new 44 kV power line, supported by wooden poles, approximately 10.4 km in length. The required right-of-way for the power line corridor would extend to 10m and one pad mount transformer would be required. Access to the proposed site would require upgrading 7.3 km of existing road and construction of 1 km of new road on the south side of the river.

The scope of the project has been identified as: all physical works and activities associated with the construction and operation of the proposed hydroelectric generating facility, including a new dam and spillway, conveyance system, powerhouse and tailrace, storage sites, working areas, platforms, new transmission line and associated structures, new access roads, upgrades to existing access roads and any other works or undertakings directly associated with the hydroelectric project, including those that are temporary. Continue reading


Bid Eddy Site, Waterpower Development, Petawawa River – Notice of Commencement

NOTICE OF COMMENCEMENT

of an Environmental Assessment

Big Eddy Site, Waterpower Development, Petawawa River,Town of Petawawa

Petawawa (ON)

March 3, 2011 (Updated March 4, 2011) — Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Canadian Transportation Agency, National Defence and Transport Canada are required to ensure that a screening is conducted commencing on February 24, 2011 in relation to the development proposal: Big Eddy Site, Waterpower Development, Petawawa River,Town of Petawawa.

Xeneca Power Development Inc. has proposed to build a waterpower electricity generating facility on the Petawawa River. The Big Eddy waterpower development site is located in the City of Petawawa and is situated partially on Canadian Forces Base Petawawa. The proposed project at Big Eddy would capture the suveyed gross head of 9m. The conceptual development incorporates the use of a concrete weir and an earthen dam. A conveyance channel situated on the north shore of the river would conduct flow from the river to an intake which woud power one or more Kaplan turbines coupled to a generator with a combined rated nameplate capacity of 5.3 MW. Continue reading


Environmental Commissioner of Ontario’s – 2007/08 Annual Report

Ontario’s EA Process is Broken:

In his 2007-2008 Annual Report, the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (ECO), Gord Miller, stated: “Ontario’s EA process is broken,”(p.28) and that, “a no decision is not a possible outcome” (p. 42).  Since then, little has been done to address this issue. Continue reading


Grassy Narrows – Landmark Legal Victory – Traditional Territory Treaty Rights

Ontario: Landmark Legal Victory Could End Clearcut Logging In Grassy

Narrows Territory

Yesterday the Grassy Narrows First Nation (Asubpeeschoseewagong Netum Anishinabek) won a major victory in their more than decade long battle to stop clearcut logging in Grassy Narrows’ traditional territory. Grassy Narrows Chief and Council welcome the decision of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to protect the rights promised to the Anishinaabe from interference by Ontario. Madam Justice Mary-Anne Sanderson’s decision, over 300 pages in length, finds that the Government of Ontario does not have the power to take away the rights in Treaty 3 by authorizing development including logging and mining.

This decision will set the stage for proper recognition and protection of those rights and, even more importantly, will help protect the Anishinaabe way of life in Northwestern Ontario. Grassy Narrows hopes that this will be a turning point in this battle. We expect that real protection for the endangered boreal forest and our way of life will be put in place immediately.

Joseph Fobister, one of the trappers who were plaintiffs in this case said, “this is a victory for our people. We have struggled for many years to save our way of life in the face of uncontrolled clearcutting, which has contaminated our waters and destroyed our lands.” Mr. Fobister also thanked the people of Grassy Narrows and the supporters who have stood by the community in the fight against clearcut logging.

Chief Simon Fobister urges the Governments of Ontario and Canada to come to the table to negotiate a modern understanding that will fully respect and implement our rights. Chief Fobister said that “this will require protecting the way of life of the Anishinaabe who were here before the logging industry came to these lands and will be here after the logging companies have moved on to other forests.”

This case describes the long history of the Anishinaabe and their fight to hold the Government of Canada to the promises made in Treaty 3. Grassy Narrows calls on Canada and Ontario to honour the spirit and intent of this decision by moving to eliminate clearcut logging in Grassy Narrows Traditional Territory and to develop a meaningful new approach to the management of this territory in partnership with Grassy Narrows.

Source: Grassy Narrows First Nation


Unionid mussels – our subtly beautiful largest invertebrate animals!

Become a Local Expert

Because of their constant filtering, Unionids are the heavy-duty in-stream providers of “water quality,” and unlike fish, they can’t get out of the way and then quickly swim back to recolonize a site. Stream projects should avoid disturbing the streambed where they’re abundant, since the mussels mature slowly, and mature individuals can keep providing improved water quality for several decades. Water level fluctuations in impoundments can make
vast areas of the bottom behind dams uninhabitable.

To become the local unionid expert, search shores & bottoms of streams, and shores & shallows of lakes, concentrating on clear-water habitats and on riffles, and especially on streams right below lake outlets, where phytoplanktonic food from the still water flows like a perpetual buffet. Some species are wedged into the mucky banks of streams. Muskrats accumulate shell piles beside stumps and rocks on the bank, which you’ll find easily once you begin to think like a Muskrat. Flood waters concentrate shells at the foot of bars, or in eddies. It’s important to examine lots of animals and collect lots of shells, because many species are superficially hard to tell apart and many are rare. Since you can collect dead shells without harming the populations, it’s possible to gather material documentation of the occurrence of species, and their variation. Continue reading