Category Archives: The Chute

ORA Celebrates 10 years of Service to Ontario Rivers

A presentation made by the Chair of ORA:

A presentation made by the Chair at ORA’s 16 October 2021 Annual General Meeting:

Continue reading

Ivanhoe River & Frederick House River – MECP Decision on ORA’s Part II Order requests

After reviewing the Project documentation, the issues raised by the requesters, and the outstanding concerns of technical staff, the MECP has determined that the project has not met the requirements of the Class Environmental Assessment for Waterpower Projects.

Continue reading

Terminated FIT Contracts

The Ontario Rivers Alliance filed a Freedom of Information Application with the IESO in February of 2016 to obtain the following list of terminated Feed-in-Tariff Contracts: Continue reading

10 Ontario Rivers Protected from 19 Hydroelectric Projects

Wabagishik Rapids – Vermilion River

Update: In the end, ORA and our membership stopped 24 projects on 12 rivers.

MEDIA RELEASE:  For Immediate Release:  13 July 2016

10 Ontario Rivers Protected from 19 Hydroelectric Projects

SUDBURY:  The Ontario Rivers Alliance (ORA) is celebrating a major victory in the protection of 10 Ontario rivers that have been under threat from 19 proposed hydroelectric projects.   Actions taken by the ORA and its members have led to what was considered to be impossible – the termination of 19 Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) Contracts.

In 2011, ORA came into being to address a rash of 87 proposed hydroelectric proposals initiated under the Green Energy Act.  The offer of generous incentives to produce power during peak demand hours had proponents rushing to claim access to falls and rapids on rivers all across the province.  The number of proposals to actually receive FIT Contracts was soon reduced to 41, and of those, Xeneca Power Development Inc. had secured 19 contracts for projects involving 23 Crown sites on 10 Ontario rivers. Continue reading

Ivanhoe River Environmental Report – The Chute and Third Falls – ORA Part II Order Request


Healthy rivers are vital to our survival on this planet. Damming rivers to provide income for this generation is short-sighted and ill-advised, and will diminish a life-giving resource that is essential to the survival of our future generations.

Continue reading

ORA Actions Have Significant Impact on Protection of Rivers


Posted 8 March 2014

A number of environmentally harmful hydroelectric projects would likely be under construction by now if not for actions taken by ORA and our members.

In the fall of 2011, ORA was instrumental in a coordinated effort that resulted in three separate Environmental Reports (ERs) submitted by Xeneca Power Development Inc. (Xeneca)  being rejected by Ontario’s Ministry of Environment.  This was due to several deficiencies, as well as a “lack of traceability and transparency in Xeneca’s decision-making process and associated documentation”.  The developer was sent back to complete key studies and do more planning.  This rejection has led to another two years of studies, which has provided precious time for circumstances to influence some of their other proposals.  These ERs were three of a total of 19 proposals by Xeneca.

This was due to ORA and several of its members submitting Part II Order requests on hydro-electric proposals for the Ivanhoe, Frederick House and Serpent Rivers.  These were requests for the Minister of Environment to require an Individual Environmental Assessment (EA) for the projects.

Under current provincial legislation, Part II Order requests are the only option for the public and stakeholders to advocate for a more rigorous scrutiny of the proposal, and hopefully a more environmentally and socially sustainable hydroelectric project.

The proponent led process puts the fox in charge of the henhouse.  The proponent decides when to notify and consult with stakeholders, relay information, and share important documentation. Proponents don’t hesitate to let you know it’s a done deal, and that there is nothing you can do to stop the project.

Although requests to elevate the first three projects to individual EAs were not granted, these efforts did result in the proponent being required to conduct further studies. Not only did this delay the original three proposals, but it also caused Xeneca to shelve several other proposals that it had intended to issue Draft ERs on by the spring of 2012.  It has also provided time for the Department of National Defence to remove two waterpower sites on the Petawawa River.

This action by ORA and its members in 2011 bought valuable time for other events to transpire, and without this action, many of these proposals would most likely have been through the EA process by now, into the permitting phase, and under construction.

As of yet, none of Xeneca’s 19 intended projects have been approved by the Minister of Environment, and not one of the original three proposals has come back through to ER.

The first of Xeneca’s projects to make it through to the ER stage since then is the proposed Wabagishik Rapids Generating Station on the Vermilion River. In response to Xeneca’s ER and Notice of Completion in the fall of 2013, nineteen Part II Order requests were submitted to the MOE by ORA, Vermilion River Stewardship, and other concerned citizens. The large number of requests is in large part due to public awareness activities by ORA over the past few years. Currently, we are awaiting a response from the Minister regarding Wabagishik.

You can help ORA continue our work by becoming a member or making a contribution.  For more information click here.


Precious Wild Rivers – Calendar, by Aleta Karstad

ORA FUNDRAISER – 50% of the profit from the purchase of these calendars will go to help Ontario Rivers Alliance in our mandate to protect, conserve and restore riverine ecosytems.   This calendar would make a great Christmas present!

A BIG THANKS to Aleta and Fred for making this possible!

A calendar for 2013 of Aleta Karstad’s oil paintings en plein air of rivers, rapids, and waterfalls in Ontario. Aleta travels with her biologist husband Fred Schueler to precious wild rivers that still run free with rapids and waterfalls, to paint and explore for little-known native mussels and crayfish, documenting these vulnerable wild communities in art and science. The image of each painting is accompanied by Aleta and Fred’s writings about their adventures in discovering the special nature of the place, as well as the nature of the threats to its integrity, leading us to enquire whether new hydroelectric projects on our wild rivers are desirable or necessary.

Standard Edition – 11×17 – Open:

Premium Edition – 13.5 x 19:

Rivers at Risk – The Chute and Triple Falls, on the Ivanhoe River – Paintings by Aleta Karstad

Ivanhoe “The Chute” (oil on canvas 12 x 16) Sold – 23 September 2012

Aleta Karstad – The middle fall of Triple Falls on the east side of the Ivanhoe River, 40 km north of Foleyet, Ontario – another in our series of wild waterfalls threatened by hydro dams….. For full posting go to Aleta’s website.

Triple Falls (oil on canvas 11 x 14 in.) Sold – 25 September 2012

Aleta Karstad – The East shore of the Ivanhoe River below The Chutes, 16 km north of Foleyet, Ontario. Here the Ivanhoe spills, foaming, across a gneiss ledge above its clay riverbed. Behind me, runs around an island in Cedar/Poplar woods……  For full posting go to Aleta’s website.

Proposed Amendment to the Class Environmental Assessment for Waterpower Projects – by Hugh Currie, White Pine Lodge

September 16, 2012

Agatha Garcia-Wright
Director – Environmental Approvals Branch
Ministry of the Environment
12A Floor 2 St Clair Ave W
Toronto, ON
M4V 1L5

Re: Proposed Amendment to the Class Environmental Assessment Water Power Projects

Dear Ms. Garcia-Wright:

I wish to comment on the Proposed Amendment to the Class Environmental Assessment for the Waterpower Projects as follows:

  • there are a large number of small tourists outfitter throughout Ontario that are dependent on our undisturbed Natural Resource’s and our healthy River Ecosystems.
  • First Nations communities are dependent on a healthy river system throughout all the Water Sheds. They are dependent on a healthy river system for drinking water, transportation, trapping, food, and recreation.
  • only a few kilometers of our rivers are not in use by people.

The Environmental Assessment must continue on waterpower facilities of 2 megawatts or under as cycling, peaking, and run of the river projects continue to alter and result in negative impact on river ecosystems.

The Environmental Assessment process should not be altered, for the past, present, and future power generating stations. There needs to be a constant process in place for any unforeseen projects in the future, which may fall under the Environmental Assessment process. An example of this would be a mine closure rehabilitation I’ll give you a reason why this process should be in place and not altered -The NORAD Bases. These bases were constructed throughout Canada in the 1950’s to protect us from Air attacks and it wasn’t until 1988 The Canadian International Development Agency got involved and set up guidelines to clean up the horrific environmental damages that were sustained when the bases were abandoned. This cost our government hundreds of millions of dollars to clean up. The guidelines that were developed by this should be copied and continued to ensure that any future projects that involve our environment will be protected. These guidelines will prevent occurrences such as Fort Albany, a NORAD base that had PCB, arsenic, fuel and oil leaking into the ground. This base has cost in excess of 9 million dollars to clean up the environmental damage.

I feel as a steward of the environment that I cannot allow the Environmental Assessment process to fail, which will create giant footprints as in the past. This is just one of many examples why the Environmental Assessment process must continue and those who create footprints must be held accountable for the clean up and rehabilitation of the environment and not the taxpayers of Ontario and Canada.

The Environmental Assessment for all water powered facilities has to be ever more diligent so not to create an unsustainable ecosystem that will compromise future generations.

I am requesting that the Amendment to the Class Environmental Assessment for waterpower projects fewer than 2 megawatts be rejected.

Yours truly,

Hugh Currie
White Pine Lodge
Box 114
Foleyet, ON
P0M 1T0

OPSEU Pension Trust (OPTrust) funds many Hydroelectric Proposals

Is this How You Want to See Your OPSEU Pension Fund Invested?

It has come to our attention that at least 18 modified run-of-river hydroelectric proposals are funded through the government employees’ pension trust fund – OPSEU – OPTrust.  These types of hydroelectric dams carry numerous negative impacts1 resulting in reduced water quality and water quantity, destruction of habitat and spawning areas, place extreme pressure on fish and endangered species survival, and the frequent and extreme swings in water flow velocity and water levels pose a serious threat to public health and safety.  MNR and MOE staff are assigned to facilitate these proposals through the Environmental Assessment, permits, and approvals process, and ultimately through to completion.  It is also MNR and MOE that make the final decisions on whether these proposals are approved.  With their own pension monies at risk, this would appear to be a clear conflict of interest.

Continue reading