Sun 2 Sep 2007
Environmental Assessment Process for Proposed Glacier/Howser Hydro Project Continues to Spurn Public InputPosted by bc-creeks under Events , General , Glacier/Howser , Third party articles
August 28, 2007
The proposed Glacier/Howser hydroelectric project in the West Kootenay region of BC continues to be quickly rammed through the environmental assessment review process. With only a 38 day public comment period in the peak of summer holiday season over 75 submissions have already been posted on the BC Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) website. A huge amount of concern is being expressed over this proposed project yet not everyone has had the opportunity for input. Gary Diers, of the Purcell Alliance for Wilderness, requested a 30 day extension to the public comment period citing the busy summer holiday season, the complexity of the project and its associated issues and the immense interest from both the public and media. This request has been supported by many other organizations and individuals, but the EAO has denied the request.
The latest request for an extension was made yesterday by Marilyn James of the Sinixt People who unjustly have not been included as stakeholders. With the combination of being away for several weeks and the shortness of the public comment period, Marilyn James and the Sinixt are now being left out of the process altogether.
This lack of concern by the EAO for the opportunity for public input follows on the heels of their hosting only one open house in the entire West Kootenay with barely a week notice. While residents of communities such as Kaslo and Nelson expressed the need for meetings in their communities, the requests were again denied. Some concerned citizens traveled over 3 hours to attend the one meeting in Meadow Creek while most citizens were simply left out of the process. Concerns have also been expressed over the open house format chosen by the EAO instead of the more democratic public meeting format.
Submissions have sometimes taken over a week to be posted on the EAO website. On Monday a submission was posted including the writers’ address and email even though they specifically requested (and this is their right to do so): “Please do not post our address or email address on any public sites.” And in my failed attempt to find out about the federal review component, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency told me that perhaps the regional office was not providing information as they “may have a skeleton staff right now because of the holiday period.” Perhaps the government needs the 30 day extension as much as the public to accomplish due diligence in the process they are legally bound to carry out.
Gary Diers explains, “The government appears to be in a great hurry to push through these new hydroelectric projects. And it’s no wonder. When people find out that rights to their rivers and creeks are being given away to private interests to produce expensive electricity that we don’t even need at great environmental cost they ask how they can help to stop these projects.”
Gary Diers, Purcell Alliance for Wilderness, 250-366-4455, firstname.lastname@example.org