I am writing to share my opposition to Innergex’s Upper Lillooet Hydro project, which proposes the construction of three hydroelectric facilities on the Upper Lillooet River, Boulder Creek and North Creek as well as a 72-km long transmission line. The Ministers of Environment and of Energy, Mines and Natural Gas are currently deciding whether to issue an environmental assessment certificate for this project. If issued, the destruction will begin.
Innergex has a history of failing to comply with flow management regulations, resulting in fish kill and damaged fish habitat, as noted by both federal and provincial bureaucrats. Such environmentally devastating incidents are therefore likely to occur in the Upper Lillooet River. This project could also negatively impact lower-gradient salmon spawning and rearing habitat.
Innergex’s project will turn Pemberton’s stunning backcountry into an industrialized zone replete with roads, dams, pipelines, temporary construction camps, and an unsightly 72 km long clearcut for the transmission line. It will destroy the beautiful Keyhole Falls: British Columbians do not want the possible provision of “esthetical flows perhaps on weekends,” as suggested by Richard Blanchet, Innergex's western region vice-president.
In addition to the incalculable environmental losses, tax payers will be stuck with the fallout of B.C.`s flawed energy policy and legislation, which enables Innergex and other Independent Power Producers to sell power to BC Hydro at a much higher rate than BC Hydro itself produces and sells power. Clearly, only Innergex`s shareholders stand to gain from this project, while Pemberton’s growing tourism (Slow Food Cycle, Ironman Canada, the Canadian National Paragliding Championships, etc.) and the long-term jobs it provides will be negatively affected.
Contrary to what Innergex maintains, many development impacts cannot be mitigated, so the wisest approach would be to leave the Upper Lillooet River undeveloped, especially as government monitoring and follow up evaluations are totally inadequate as highlighted in the Auditor General’s report An Audit of the Environmental Assessment Office’s Oversight of Certified Projects (2011/12).