Region works with province on IPP issues 

Board discussion goes back to controversial decision on the Ashlu IPP

The Squamish-Lillooet Regional District is not against independent power projects, though the may have a reputation for knocking them down.

That was the message delivered by the board at Tuesday's meeting after Director Susan Gimse gave an update of work being done by the province and the SLRD.

"We’re not opposed to IPP development but there are these issues that need to be resolved," she said.

"We have a lot of knowledge and experience that we can bring to the table."

Representatives from the SLRD and the province came together this month to talk about run-of-river IPP development, a hot topic in this regional district which is faced with a plethora of applications for development on local streams.

One of the main topics that has come out of those discussions to date is the need for an overall plan to deal with IPP development.

"I'm encouraged by the comments," said Whistler Mayor Hugh O'Reilly. "This is good power. It has lost of positives."

And yet, O'Reilly and all the other board members, save one, voted against an IPP project on the Ashlu Creek near Squamish earlier this year. It was a controversial decision.

Some board members reiterated their position on why they voted that way. O'Reilly felt as though he was voting for a project in a void. He had nothing to compare the Ashlu to, nothing to measure it against. Director Mickey Macri said he voted against it because there was no plan.

Whatever the reason, the board feels as though that decision has given them a bad rap, which some such as O'Reilly do not feel is justified.

Director Raj Kahlon, on the other hand, who was the only one to vote in favour of the Ashlu project, said the label is fitting.

"We should be getting the bad name for what we did," he said. "I still think we made a bad decision."

The IPP working group is hashing out the issues surrounding IPP development. They range from the lack of comprehensive land use planning, to involving local government earlier in the decision making process to identifying possible impediments in each case to streamlining the process of approvals.

Work continues this month and Gimse said she is optimistic.

"It’s really important that we be really positive about this issue," she said.

She also said developing an overall strategy for the SLRD is in the provincial work plan.

Representatives from the Ministry of Sustainable Resource Management could not be reached for comment.

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