IPP open house to draw local kayakers 

WHAT: Ashlu Creek IPP open house

WHERE: Totem Hall, Squamish

WHEN: 7 p.m. Tues. Nov. 25

A small run of river project on the Ashlu Creek in Squamish will be under intense scrutiny by local kayakers at an open house next week.

Proposed by Vancouver-based Ledcor Industrial Limited, the power project will affect just over five kilometres of the lower portion of the creek in an area that is dear to many kayakers.

"The Ashlu is probably the best paddling river around," said Stuart Smith, projects coordinator with the Whitewater Kayaking Association of B.C.

"Its got lots of different runs, beautiful bedrock, really clean water, good scenery."

Smith said the river has a lot of different runs on it for every kind of kayaker. There’s a play run with good surfing, harder runs for the more advanced kayakers, and scenic runs for average kayakers just out for a paddle.

"So it’s got a lot to offer and unfortunately (the IPP is) going to impact all of those runs."

But Ledcor, who also have plans to develop an IPP on the Fitzsimmons Creek in Whistler, argue they have made concessions to the kayaking community.

"As part of the project design one of the original considerations was instead of draining every last drop of water out of the creek, (we proposed to) take out what we need for power generation and leave the rest in there," said Ledcor Project Manager Kelly Boychuk.

"We know there are other interests. There are other users, whether it’s a kayaker or the fisheries department or someone. Things have to be shared so the design of the project is quite conservative."

The power project will remove a portion of water from the creek and divert it into a powerhouse where it will be converted into energy.

Ledcor proposes to keep 50 per cent of the water in the creek from mid-May to mid-August to accommodate those other interests, specifically the paddling community. After August, the 5 km section will not be usable.

Kayakers however said they value the Ashlu not only for its scenic values but also because it’s a river that they paddle during the spring and fall when runs on higher elevations simply aren’t available.

For local kayaker Don Butler, the issue goes beyond kayaking. He’s concerned about the cumulative effects of these projects as BC Hydro call for more IPP proposals.

The Ledcor open house is part of a rezoning process with the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District.

Boychuk said he hopes to have the permitting and public consultation process complete by spring 2004 and for the power to be making power by fall 2005.

Ledcor already has an electricity purchase agreement in place with BC Hydro.

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