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A First Nations perspective on IPPs

The polarization of B.C. voters deserves comment from a sector of British Columbia electors that is not regularly highlighted: First Nations. This is important as British Columbia and First Nations strive to reconcile Crown and Aboriginal Title.

The polarization of B.C. voters deserves comment from a sector of British Columbia electors that is not regularly highlighted: First Nations. This is important as British Columbia and First Nations strive to reconcile Crown and Aboriginal Title.

In recent elections In-SHUCK-ch Nation supported the candidate, and not the party. We chose this course in a period of time when First Nations issues were not as well defined as they are rapidly becoming. Since the last general election in B.C., however, treaties, land and resource management planning, forest and range agreement renewals and, more recently, the Liberals' commitment to recognize, in law, the fact of Indian Title are beginning to redefine our place in the Canadian political and social order.

Central to our economic future is the economic potential represented by run of river hydro projects. This was recognized some time ago by one (of our three) In-SHUCK-ch communities, Douglas First Nation, when they established a business relationship with Cloudworks Energy. The first of their projects are due to come on stream within months. These will benefit Cloudworks, obviously, but also Douglas and In-SHUCK-ch.

And, it's been demonstrated to me, in the construction phase, that it benefits the province and the country.

We recognize the opportunity. We want to share the costs, the risks and the benefits. We've selected treaty lands that are strategic sites necessary for construction of run of river projects. In some streams, the B.C. Liberals have agreed to our request to impose water reservations that protect our interests as we work to complete treaty negotiations.

Now, we appreciate that there are environmental concerns inherent in practically any form of construction, particularly IPP projects. Some streams are places of spiritual importance to my people. And, fish are central to our culture and identity as a people. Therefore, these developments will only proceed with complete regard for what we see as appropriate.

That said, opponents of IPPs must know that if we deem it important to pay our own way in society, then they must also know that we have considered the full cost, including environmental ones. They therefore should not presume to speak for us.

We believe that it's entirely within our ability to determine whether such projects, on balance, can proceed. We're confident that we can look after our own interests and the environmental movement should note that we also believe that this will reflect the greater public interest.

We disagree with the NDP position that a moratorium should be placed on IPPs. To do so, would be to deny us the opportunity to finally begin to take our full and willing place in Canada on our own terms.

We also disagree with the Green Party's position that such developments should be a matter for regional governments to decide. In our case, projects will be on treaty lands, subject to our laws and to all relevant provincial and federal laws.

The government after May 12 will be either Liberal or NDP. We think that our general and specific interests would best be served by supporting a renewed mandate for the Gordon Campbell Liberals.

Eppa (Gerard Peters)

Chief Negotiator, In-SHUCK-ch Nation

Little transparency in IPPs

Speaking in Whistler two weeks ago, environmentalist Tzeporah Berman related how attending a UN climate conference in 2007 ignited her strong desire to reduce fossil fuel emissions. This passion has narrowed her vision to the point where she now lobbies for the privatization of British Columbia's publicly owned rivers. Ironically, this means that her eco-pedigree is being used to support a Liberal government that has a commitment to subsidize and expand oil and gas development in our province, and offshore too.

The Liberals tell us that we are short of electrical power, but Canadian National Energy Board statistics reveal that this is not true. BC Hydro's own assessment, released in January, states that we only need 60 per cent of the power that their own boss Gordon Campbell alleges we need.

Donald McInnes, CEO of the largest private power project in Canadian history, currently moving to divert 16 waterways in Bute Inlet, recently stated that, "An export plan is an obvious place for us to go," adding: "you'd have to be in a coma to not see where the B.C. government is going."

To facilitate that coma in voters, Gordon Campbell has fostered little transparency while handing over our most valuable and vital public asset to a handful of global shareholders. His government recently passed Bill 42, "the gag law," and when the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District voted 8-1 against privatizing the Ashlu River, autocratic Gordy passed Bill 30, to retroactively void the decision.

Last month he pushed to eliminate another pesky impediment to this secretive giveaway, the longstanding federal Navigable Waters Protection Act. Prime Minister Harper merely emasculated it instead. More recently he tried to convince the California State Senate to increase their acceptable size for a run of river project to greater than 30 megawatts. They said no, because that's beyond their threshold of "green." The Bute Inlet project is 1,027 megawatts.

Ms Berman thinks that's all fine. She subscribes to the Secretary-General of the United Nations' words, "that unless we make a strong agreement to reduce fossil fuel emissions quickly, that we are dooming humanity to oblivion." She believes that by putting B.C.'s rivers in privately owned pipes, North Americans can drive electric cars. Problem is, the auto malls don't have any. By her reckoning, it doesn't matter if we lose wild salmon along the way, because if we don't privatize and divert our rivers immediately we'll lose even more species anyway.

Providing California with electricity at the expense of our environment, economy, and sovereignty will not help... because they'll devour that not so green energy... plus the fossil fuels too. The bigger issue that should concern Ms Berman is our societal syndrome of endless growth. The current social and economic systems of always increasing supply by continuing to drill, dig, and dam limited space and resources is not sustainable for B.C. or the planet.

Ms Berman's former allies, who have called for a moratorium on private power projects, are not "short-sighted" as she claims. They are pragmatic. Most of them support development of suitable run of river power, but only with the transparency that has been lacking so far.

Neil Brown


The choice we face on energy

Good on environmentalist Tzeporah Berman for standing up for facts and reason over fear and misinformation ('IPP moratorium misguided': Tzeporah Berman, Pique April 16).

B.C. has one of the greatest potentials in the world to produce 100 per cent of our electricity from clean, renewable, non-emitting power sources. We also have some of the toughest regulations in the world for run-of-the-river hydro projects.

That's why I'm deeply outraged by all the fear-mongering and misinformation that people like Rafe Mair are engaging in to try and fuel misperceptions about clean energy. More people need to follow Ms. Berman's example and help foster rational debate whereby facts and reason can triumph over fear and misinformation.

Whether Rafe Mair and other opponents of clean energy like it or not, a low-carbon, clean energy revolution is upon us. We can either cower in fear based on misinformation and misperceptions or we can approach our clean energy future boldly with facts and reason. I choose the latter.

Michael McBratney

Burnaby, B.C.

Not surprised at all

Re: Health worker reinstated after Mount Currie sit-ins ( Pique , April 23).

I was shocked, appalled, but not surprised when I read this article about the recent events involving the much-loved physiotherapist at Mt. Currie. I had the pleasure of working with Ms. Samuels at the Health Centre for a couple of years and observed her dedication and devotion to all the clients in that community. I am not surprised that an uproar ensued and would have loved to be there to have witnessed and supported that event.

I hope that the "powers that be" have come to their senses and see what great resources they have in the professional staff that choose to work in their community on a day to day basis to help improve the lives of their elders.

To the elders, thank you for standing up for Ms. Samuels. I had the pleasure of working with many of you during my time in Mt. Currie and could only imagine the power that you wield when you collectively come together.

Rhonda Wasylenki, RN

Salmon Arm, B.C.

Give your heads a shake

The three individuals who signed their names to this "Appeal to give up sleds" have really got to step back and give their heads a shake. The ignorance put forth by these folks, is highlighted by the following statement in their letter: "...the day-skiers' pollution is minimized when he starts recreating (electrically driven lifts have a pretty low carbon footprint)..."

Whistler Blackcomb is one of the largest ski resort developments on the planet. To say that the carbon footprint of the day-skier is restricted to energy use of the chairlifts is just plain wrong and could not be further from the truth. Resort skiing is far from a "green" activity. The trail cutting, land and infrastructure development that has occurred in the valley over the last 25 years far exceeds the impact of the snowmobile population active in the area over the same time period.

These are individuals who simply have a vendetta against motorized recreation for whatever reason. Attacking a minority user group in the Sea to Sky corridor who have long been active in the area (and who have already made great concessions in giving up much of their historical riding area(s)), while at the same time making the ridiculous claim that their favored past-time of resort skiing is somehow more environmentally friendly than snowmobiling is just absolute garbage.

I will never understand why so many of today's backcountry users feel that everything must be regulated, and all areas divided up amongst recreational user groups. I also fail to understand why some people think they have the right to tell others how to recreate and live their lives. B.C.'s backcountry, to many, represents the ultimate in freedom, yet these days it seems to be a constant battle between those who wish to see additional restrictions and regulations enforced on others to benefit themselves and their chosen past-time, and those of us who just want to live our lives and enjoy our hobbies.

Mason Hecky

Coquitlam, B.C.

Don't stop; do it better

RE: An appeal to give up sleds ( Pique letters April 23)

I can't believe you decided to print the letter from Bryce Leigh, Al Whitney and Charlotte Whitney. It borders on hate mail. Singling out one group of people who they personally feel impacts the environment more than others. I can't imagine you would print a letter that singled out other groups or organizations in such a manner.

We all impact the environment. Living on the planet affects the environment and whether or not they want to accept the fact that resort riding affects the environment, it certainly does. Maybe the ski lifts are electric; electricity certainly has an impact on our environment, so did campfires before we had electricity. How much diesel is used every year on the mountain? How many sleds are used there? Groomers? The list is endless.

Millions of tourists flock to our beautiful country every year, driving, flying, impacting the environment. We flock to other countries and become tourists ourselves. We fly, we drive, we ZipTrek through rain forests. Should we be there?

I don't plan on giving up resort riding or sledding. I believe that with increased demand the pressure is there to create better and cleaner ways to do the things we love in life. The answer isn't to stop doing it; do it better!

Another thing I was thinking of when I was reading the letter is that really, do we need newspapers anymore? We have the Internet; we could all read our news online and save millions, if not trillions, of trees! I appeal to everyone to give up newspapers! You can do it!

Amanda Lee-Dempsey

No Limits Motorsports


Reinvention of TWSSF hits the mark

The festival has done it again! Congratulations to Sue Eckersley, the entire Watermark team and all the dedicated volunteers for executing another exceptional Telus World Ski & Snowboard Festival. In its 14 th year, the festival seemed to reignite Whistler's spirit, and very clearly made a statement that this annual event is here for the long haul.

Feedback from across the ski/snowboard industry, and the buzz around the village was all about "reinvention" with inclusion of the Grenade Games, the continuation of the Orage Masters, and the introduction of threePointoh, just to name a few. From the whimsical Icon Gone to the ongoing prestige of the Olympus Pro Photographer and 72 Hour Filmmaker Showdowns, to the cutting edge Skate and Deploy, this festival embodies energy other resorts around the world dream of.

There are countless people who should be thanked - including all the locals who worked in some way on the festival, entered the many contests and attended the events - but I do want to take a moment to thank all the sponsors, especially this year. Without sponsor enthusiasm and participation, this festival really would not exist, and we very much appreciate their involvement. In particular our title sponsor Telus and some of the Gold level partners who are here year after year - Coca-Cola, General Motors and Kokanee. Thank you to all sponsors for your support.

Very clearly, the festival continues to grow and inspire. Congratulations Watermark, you did us all proud.

Dave Brownlie


Whistler Blackcomb

'Hopeful' forest profits?

After reading the "forestry partnership deal" article (RMOW First Nations sign forest tenure pact, Pique April 16) I felt a need to leap into service to help better educate our community. There are huge inconsistencies in what people are saying and doing. As a result, we're de-evolving in our forestry practices and ways of conscious living.

So we're going into the "logging business" eh Whistler?

Has everyone in Whistler, or at least the majority voted to participate in this endeavour? We are talking about public lands, right? No different than the public lands which were leased out by the B.C. government to logging companies to "manage." They were completely pillaged and mismanaged to death (literally) until people like you and I said "enough."

Sure we all have to eat, but we're not eating trees, we're making toilet paper and plywood out of it - not even honoring the trees enough to create something beautiful like a sculpture, furniture or nice floors. Yes, our old growth trees will go to pulp and plywood, the cedars to build estates in California and Japan, and the pines for framing.

Sad thing is everyone is talking about profits and business, yet those statements are also being contradicted by "hoping that that will turn around and that we will be able to make a profit" or "hopefully profit." What? You're selling our local forests while your business plan indicates you "hope" to make a profit? My experience tells me you need to revise your plan.

Now, the reality of it. Unless you plan to selectively harvest our forests and price trees individually according to their value, not as lot cuts, the project is in no way sustainable environmentally or economically. I offer my opinion through experience; I've been involved in forest preservation and Eco-education for over 12 years. I've driven awareness campaigns and stood for the sacred lands of the Elaho Valley, Clayoquot Sound and The Great Bear Rainforest, along with Temagami in Ontario. My sustainable forestry knowledge comes from ol' Merv Wilkinson; we can choose to manage or mismanage forests.

On that note, what are the methods of harvesting the partners plan to use?

Are there any Land Use Plans or maps available for the people of Whistler to view and will the RMOW adhere to the B.C. Forest Practices Codes to ensure the land is also being managed responsibly?

Interesting, a ceremony for the sale of our forests? For profit, that "might" come. Anyone with cultural wisdom would agree, ceremony is usually conducted to celebrate the sacredness of life. I'm sure Squamish and Lil'wat elders would nod to that. Traditionally, there should be a ceremony for every tree cut, or at the least, tobacco offered.

We have deviated from nature as a species, from false time and the concept of "time is money," which is why we are so disconnected with the earth. We are nature, not separate from it. Whistler is beautiful; let's preserve it intelligently together.

Chris Hill