Hydro project for Callaghan Creek on hold for now 

Innergex said IPP licence will be retained for possible future use

click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY STEVE ARNS - Innergex's plans for an IPP on Callaghan Creek are on hold for now.
  • Photo courtesy Steve Arns
  • Innergex's plans for an IPP on Callaghan Creek are on hold for now.

Plans to develop an Independent Power Project (IPP) on Callaghan Creek are on hold for now, said an Innergex spokesperson on Thursday, June 23.

The run-of-river licence held by Innergex will still be valid, but Colleen Giroux-Schmidt, senior director for governmental and regulatory affairs, said the lack of a procurement call from BC Hydro means it could be years before any development is considered.

"Based on the current market opportunities in the province — we may develop the project one day, but we have no plans for the foreseeable future," said Giroux-Schmidt. BC Hydro made procurement calls in 2006 and again in 2008 in the wake of former premier Gordon Campbell's plan for energy self-sufficiency.

Giroux-Schmidt said the B.C. government's Climate Leadership Plan update is due within weeks, and Canada's is due in the fall — both of which target a shift from fossil-fuel energy to renewable electricity.

"All the projects under construction right now are all the result of the 2008 procurement call that BC Hydro issued, said Giroux-Schmidt. "Currently, there's a standing-offer program that BC Hydro has and that's for projects that are smaller than 15 megawatts.

"I think we'll keep (Callaghan Creek) as we see the potential for a project there. But it's at an early stage and there's still a lot of work that would need to be done," she said.

For kayaker Steve Arns, it's a reprieve — for a time.

"The longer that they don't pursue it, the better it is," he said. "Paddlers aren't necessarily against hydro development, we're just against hydro development on one of the most important rivers in the Sea to Sky area."

Arns, who blogs about kayaking at LiquidLore.org and organizes the annual Callaghan Creek kayaking race in July, said the river attracts a wide spectrum of kayakers largely because low-water conditions appeal to intermediate and advanced, but advanced-expert and professional paddlers also arrive when the water level is high.

"It's a really special spot," he said, adding it would be a shame to lose it to a hydro project. "The Callaghan and the Ashlu are the two crown jewels of the area. There's already a dam on the Ashlu."

Giroux-Schmidt said: "We understand it's a valued stream for kayakers. If and when we proceed with it, we would certainly be working closely with them to try to find solutions for them."

Bear encounters force hot-springs trail closure

The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations on Friday, June 24, closed the Pebble Creek/Keyhole Falls hot springs trail due to bear encounters, including a confirmed report of a bear-charge incident. Area signs, which warn users of bear contact and remind them of the importance of packing out garbage, have been removed, the ministry stated in a press release.

Innergex, which is developing the Upper Lillooet Hydro Project, was cited on June 9 for non-compliance after food waste was noted at an on-site garbage bin.

Giroux-Schmidt said domestic waste was observed on the worksite and Innergex is working through this with the Environmental Assessment Office.

"We've increased the frequency of waste-bin inspections and we've added further education to the work crews and we've increased signage through the site," she said.

"There's a lot of waste being left by recreational users and that's starting to cause a problem with some of the bears. There are bears that are becoming habituated," said Giroux-Schmidt. "We want to strongly convey that the public has to be part of the solution."

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