Squamish Nation supports energy project 

Recreation users concerned about project impacts

click to enlarge Power struggle Experienced kayakers and mountain bike riders are concerned that a proposed power project on Skookum Creek will have major negative impacts on recreation.
  • Power struggle Experienced kayakers and mountain bike riders are concerned that a proposed power project on Skookum Creek will have major negative impacts on recreation.

A creek in Squamish that runs into the Mamquam River is getting closer to becoming a construction zone.

The Squamish Nation has signed a long-term Impact Benefit Agreement with Run of River Power (ROR). While the project has First Nation's support kayakers and mountain bike riders continue to be concerned about the impact the 25 MW power project will have on the creek and the area around it.

Class Five kayaker Steve Arns is worried one of his favourite waterfall runs will be lost if the project goes ahead. He has run the creek twice and said it is the kind of stream skilled weekend warriors can manage. It isn't a waterway for beginners adding that Skookum is only navigable a few days a year.

Kirsten Langan, the ROR Director of Communications, said The Mamquam Access Society (MAS) is discussing impacts and mitigation measures with ROR on behalf of the kayak community.

According to Arns, the company running the power facility on the Ashlu River has installed a great system for kayakers.

"They have 24 days of flow that they make available by opening the dam up and people can reliably go there and expect to have water in the normal season that it used to have water prior to the dam," said Arns.

Kayak enthusiasts have access to an on-line Ashlu booking season. They simply reserve the day they want to kayak and if conditions on the river allow it, the company ensures the flows are sufficient for kayaking.

Langan said ROR would release flow information once the project is built so kayakers can look at the information online and plan trips using the available data.

"On Skookum Creek where it is such a small river they want to divert enough water so that unless there is a rain storm in the fall there will never be any days where you will be able to kayak, kind of like on Rutherford Creek," he said. "You can't kayak on Rutherford Creek anymore because they divert so much water."

Langan said her company is close to having an agreement with MAS and she said Olympic kayaker David Ford reviewed a navigable waters impact assessment created by ROR.

"We're talking about ways in which we can improve the experience for the whitewater users," said Langan. "The area where our project is, it is hampered by extremely limited access."

She said her company has recommended changes in access to the creek by developing put-in and pull-out improvements near the powerhouse, and downstream of the creek along with the installation of signs informing creek users of risk, liability, ratings and classifications.

Arns agreed that the road to the point where kayakers currently put in is very rough and getting down to the creek requires rope systems.

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