Ledcor tries to build consensus for hydro project 

Residents of Upper Squamish want Ashlu River altered

The final decision on the Ashlu Creek independent power project is fast approaching but opposition to the project is not backing down.

"It’s almost a philosophical difference on what’s happening there," said Stuart Smith, the river projects co-ordinator with the Whitewater Kayaking Association of British Columbia.

"It’s not the right place for this project."

Ashlu Creek, the second largest tributary after the Elaho to the Squamish River, is renowned for its paddling. It’s located roughly 35 kilometres northwest of Squamish.

The proposed run-of-river project on the Ashlu will take a portion of water out of the creek, funnel it into a 5 km tunnel and send it into a powerhouse. It then gets dumped back into the creek.

While the project is labelled "green" and low impact, it will have a significant impact on paddling.

Try as they might to please the local paddling community, Vancouver-based Ledcor has not made any inroads towards consensus at this stage.

The latest offering was to provide flow releases for kayakers on weekends throughout August and September, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

"It means that there will be water released down the effected part of the stream by the project so that people can go and kayak," said Project Manager Kelly Boychuk.

"The amount of flow releases will be variable depending on the kayakers’ uses, so one day it might be more flow release for certain runs and then one day it might be less flow release for other runs."

In addition, Boychuk said Ledcor would take about 50 per cent of the water throughout late May to early August, which could work in the paddlers’ favour.

"It actually brings it (the creek) down to something that’s more in a usable range for the average guy or gal," he said.

Smith said the flow releases have only been presented as a concept to him to date.

"A lot of the things that Ledcor’s put forward they figure they’ve got it all sorted out but they haven’t really talked to us about it," he said.

"As far as we know there’s nothing going on there other than a concept."

Besides, flow releases aren’t what the paddling community is looking for, he said. They don’t want to make any concessions. They simply want the project to go away.

"We don’t want the project," he said.

"Nobody wants to talk about mitigation. They don’t want a play park. They don’t want millions of dollars. They don’t want anything. They just want the river to be left alone."

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