NELSON — New Democrat MLA Michelle Mungall says the Campbell government’s refusal to ensure broader public consultation into the controversial Glacier Howser private project makes the environmental assessment process look like a rubber stamp.
“The Campbell government is ignoring the voices of countless citizens, business owners, hunters, recreational fishermen, mayors and city councilors who are concerned about the potential destructive impact of this project,” said Mungall, the MLA for Nelson-Creston.
“By excluding key communities like Nelson from the consultation, it looks like Campbell’s environmental assessment process is nothing but a rubber stamp.”
Mungall said the government and AXOR – the company proposing the project – don’t want to hear opposition to the proposal. She noted that regional project manager Neil Murphy dismissed the idea of a meeting in Nelson because “all it would be is a mass chanting rally that means nothing in the end.”
Mungall, along with Columbia-Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald and West Kootenay MLA Katrine Conroy wrote to environment minister Barry Penner last week, asking him to ensure a public meeting would be held in Nelson. Penner declined to play a leadership role, and left the matter with the Environmental Assessment Office.
The EAO has limited the hearings to Kaslo, Invermere and Meadow Creek. The hearings were organized on very short notice, and will be completed by June 25.
The proposed project, north of Kaslo, would redirect water from Glacier, Howser, Suck and Birnam creeks through 16 kilometers of tunnels that will be large enough to drive a dump truck through.
While the diversion of the creeks will disturb bull trout habitat, the power lines needed for the project will cut through old growth reserves, and put threatened wolverines and grizzlies at risk.
Carole James and the New Democrats are calling for a moratorium on private power projects until the province assesses our current and future energy needs and develops a comprehensive plan that addresses the needs of local communities and the environment.
“It’s time to listen to communities, ensure environmental protection, and restore B.C. Hydro’s leadership role in developing energy policy,” said New Democrat energy critic John Horgan .
Mungall is urging people to write and email the environmental assessment office with their concerns about the Glacier Howser proposal during the public comment period from June 12, 2009 to July 27, 2009.
“Everyone who is concerned about this project needs to make their voice heard,” said Mungall.
Comments about the project can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to:
Project Assessment Director
Environmental Assessment Office
PO Box 9426 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria BC V8W 9V1
A backgrounder on the private power issue is attached.