Anglers, boaters fighting to keep Cheakamus flowing 

B.C. Hydro application would see flows from Daisy Lake dam reduced by 80 per cent or more

An application by B.C. Hydro that would see flows from the Daisy Lake Dam reduced by up to 80 per cent through spring and summer months has outraged kayakers, rafting companies, anglers and ecologists.

The time to voice their opposition to B.C. Hydro’s application is also tight, with the deputy comptroller of water rights only accepting public feedback until Sept. 21.

"At this point I feel that it is being rammed down our throat," said Dave Brown of the Whistler Angling Club. "We only just received a letter informing us of this impending decision, they weren’t going to advertise it in Whistler at all, which has five rafting companies, six to eight angling guide companies, an active kayak community, and other concerned groups…. The timeline to respond is incredibly tight – I mean it takes time to mobilize people in the community to get them involved.

"It’s hard not to be a little discouraged."

Brown was one of a dozen stakeholders who participated in the Cheakamus Water Use Plan Discussion, which got underway three years ago. At the time the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans made an interim order for B.C. Hydro to put 45 per cent of the inflow into Daisy Lake back into the Cheakamus River.

It was discovered that B.C. Hydro was diverting too much water from the Cheakamus, through a tunnel, to its hydro generation facility in the Squamish Valley. In addition, the flows in the Cheakamus were inconsistent, which made it difficult for fish to spawn and recreational boaters to use the river.

In the last few years, since the interim order was put in place, Brown says there has been a noticeable improvement in the salmon runs, as well as an increase in the number of recreational users on the water as a result of higher water levels and more consistent flows.

The stakeholder group never reached a consensus, with the majority of stakeholders arguing to keep the interim agreement in place and only B.C. Hydro and a representative from the DFO in favour of the B.C. Hydro plan.

"The group never reached a consensus so Hydro put forward their proposal, what they wanted to see, which was actually less than they were required to put back in… than when they got their original water license 50 years ago," said Brown.

"It affects everybody. There will be less water in the river, which will affect the fish and the eagles and the bears, as well as all the kayakers and rafting companies," said Brown. "The way (B.C. Hydro and Lands and Water B.C.) have gone about this, the user groups are being left out of the decision-making process. We spent two years meeting on this issue, a lot of non-profit groups donating their time to try and reach a consensus, and at the end we were ignored."

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