Letters to the editor 

This week's letters

Page 2 of 7

Drew Meredith

Whistler

 

Last week I attended the Oct. 5 District of Squamish Council meeting and I commend Councillor Dave Fenn for the vision and perspective regarding the total lack of planning for these proposed energy projects, and for his efforts to put forward a motion which addressed this very issue. Currently the SLRD has more than 60 projects proposed for its rivers and streams. The driving player, B.C. Hydro, issues energy purchase agreements to projects with absolutely no public input. Land and Water B.C., the provincial government approval agency, continues to develop these potential projects in a one-off manner, which fails to address the big picture in any way.

For the past two years I have participated in the Sea to Sky Land Resource Planning (LRMP) process where all the key stakeholders sat at the table, with the exception of First Nations, who unfortunately were unable to participate in the process. During that time the IPP Industry has steadfastly refused to look to compromises which would see planned development of certain more acceptable projects, while also not developing other projects which impact a range of other significant values. All this leaves local government shackled with the responsibility for planning for these projects – essentially doing the provincial government’s work.

While local government should not have to be dealing with this, it is reassuring that both the District and the SLRD have stepped up to the task. That councillors Fenn, Lonsdale, Peters, Dawson and others recognize that without planned development of these projects we, as the province's single-largest tourism resource, stand to lose much of what we have bet our very future upon (recreation and tourism) is reassuring, and of no small matter.

This is not just a letter to cheer the vote to oppose the Ashlu Project. It is to support the position that we need to balance the development of the best IPP projects for this area with the other values this area holds. We need to select the ones that impact the least other key values, the ones which are acceptable to the community, and by those developers who work with our local government, and the impacted resource users. That the proposed Ashlu project is not one of the more acceptable ones is clearly evident from the ongoing opposition to the project.

Planning means making choices, and some of them difficult; this does not mean we should avoid planning, or the decisions that come with it. As politicians, I commend the District Councillors, and the SLRD for standing up for a planned process, and for recognizing that in the long-term, we need the key recreation and tourism resources which are the basis of our future.

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