Gimse puzzled by IPP hoopla 

A heated Question Period at Pemberton's last council meeting has left a councilor confused about what all the fuss was.

Councillor Susie Gimse, also director for Area C on the board of the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District, said a letter that came from Jennie Helmer, secretary of the citizens' group the Pemberton Watchdogs confused her.

The letter, also published in last week's Pique , expressed concern about the fact that an independent power producer on Pemberton Creek was discussed at an in camera meeting.

The letter said there's been no public discussion, consultation or mandate given to council to move forward on developing a run-of-river project on Pemberton Creek, which formed the topic of a heated exchange between council and former councillor Mark Blundell at the Sept. 1 meeting.

The letter goes on to say that the larger picture of independent power production is being questioned at "higher levels" than local government in British Columbia, citing a decision by the B.C. Utilities Commission that said B.C.'s Long Term Acquisition Plan for new power generation is "not in the public interest."

Gimse said at the Sept. 15 meeting that she's confused about concerns over the proposed project for Pemberton Creek because it was the last council that moved forward on taking out a water license - a council upon which Helmer served.

"We inherited the Pemberton Creek IPP," she said. "It was in the strategic plan when I was elected to council, I assumed that the previous council had some good discussion on this (and) had public consultation with respect to priorities.

"I certainly don't want to move forward on something that hasn't been thoroughly discussed with the community. I would like to know how it got on to the strategic plan if there was not support for it."

The Village of Pemberton contracted Summit Power Management Inc. to investigate the feasibility of developing a run-of-river power project on Pemberton Creek.

Summit, the company behind wind power projects in Washington State and natural gas generators throughout the United States, most recently gave the Village of Pemberton a proposal for moving forward on a run-of-river project on the creek but council wants to see what other options it can come up with.

The proposal itself was discussed at an in camera meeting on July 21 before council rose with report and directed village staff to prepare a request for proposals for development of an IPP on Pemberton Creek.

Sturdy responded to Gimse's concerns by saying that council has supported an IPP in the past and that only a single councillor, Kirsten McLeod, has actually voted against having council acquire the license on the river. That was the only dissenting vote he could recall.

"I think it's quite clear there is a need for understanding," Sturdy said. "I think people who claim to have a position on this project are at this point best described as ideologues because we don't have an understanding of the whole equation on this project.

"We don't know what the environmental implications are, or the fiscal implications. This was the point, to get to the point where we do understand those implications and can make a decision based on sound and complete information."

Blundell was also in attendance at the meeting and during the public question period. He reiterated that he never had any minutes from an in camera meeting and that he was satisfied with council's answers.

"If it was assumed I did and if my presentation made you think that was the case I apologize because I didn't have any minutes," he said. "I was very happy with the answer to the question, even though it was a bit long and discussed."

Mayor Sturdy then thanked Blundell for providing some clarity to the last council meeting.



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