3 May 2012
In March of this year Ontario Rivers Alliance (ORA) received notice with respect to its Part II Order request made on the hydroelectric proposal by Xeneca Power Development Inc. (Xeneca) for The Chute, on the Ivanhoe River. The letter stated, “the Ministry of Environment’s (MOE) review has determined that the project was not planned in accordance with the OWA Class EA.” “If Xeneca proceeds with the Project under the OWA Class EA, additional planning work will be required.” Linda Heron, Chair of ORA stated, “We congratulate MOE on making this decision. This is the right action, and demonstrates that the Minister’s office shares the public’s concern about the level of planning that went into this proposal, and is ensuring that the intent of the environmental assessment process is upheld.”
Heron reported, “We also recently received notices from MOE’s office that Xeneca has now voluntarily withdrawn their other two Notices of Completion issued for the Four Slide Falls and Wanatango Falls proposals.” MOE’s responses to Xeneca on these two Notices of Completion were, “If Xeneca wishes to proceed with the Project, it must demonstrate that the Class EA planning process has been followed and is clearly traceable in the Project File.”
In 2011, Xeneca issued Environmental Reports and Notices of Completion for their “modified run-of-river” proposals at The Chute – Ivanhoe River; Four Slide Falls – Serpent River; and Wanatango Falls – Frederick House River, Hydroelectric GS.
ORA is concerned about the numerous negative environmental impacts associated with these “modified run-of-river” hydroelectric proposals, as well as the quality and content of the Environmental Reports submitted by the proponent, and made Part II Order requests to MOE to elevate all three of these proposals to an Individual Environmental Assessment, which is a more rigorous and thorough environmental assessment.
The serious potential impacts on water quality from these types of proposals could increase the prevalence of toxic Blue Green Algae in Ontario lakes and rivers where reports have already been on the rise with the advance of climate change. There are over 2,000 potential waterpower sites identified throughout Ontario in the 2005 Hatch Acres Report. Of those there are currently 87 hydroelectric dam proposals going through the approvals process, and an additional 50 MW of hydroelectric power has just been added as a result of the recent FIT Review. These 87 proposals also represent billions of dollars’ worth of Crown assets that are being given away to private developers whose primary focus is on profits.
“We all want green energy, but let’s ensure it is not the “greenwashed” version that is threatening our source water, natural environment, aquatic species, recreational use, and property values. Protection of water quality is essential to our public health and safety”, said Heron.
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 French River Delta Association, Vermilion River Stewardship, CPAWS-Ottawa Valley, Friends of Temagami, Paddle Canada, Whitewater Ontario, along with many other stewardships, associations, and private and First Nations citizens, who have come together to protect, conserve and restore healthy river ecosystems in Ontario.
2 March 2012 – MOE to ORA – The Chute, Ivanhoe River
9 March 2012 – MOE to Xeneca – The Chute, Ivanhoe River
9 September 2011 – ORA to MOE – Part II Order Request – The Chute, Ivanhoe River
19 April 2012 – MOE to ORA – Four Slide Falls, Serpent River
28 September 2011 – ORA to MOE – Part II Order request, Four Slide Falls
4 November 2011 – ORA to MOE – Part II Order request, Wanatango Falls, Frederick House River
Miscellaneous – Minutes & Correspondence
For more information contact Linda Heron, ORA Chair, at (705) 866-1677, or by email at LindaH@OntarioRiversAlliance.ca.
ORA Website: www.OntarioRiversAlliance.ca