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Saving the Kokish River Fish Habitat

 
Tell DFO to Save Kokish River Steelhead from Proposed Private Power Project
by Rafe Mair l The Canadian.org
These opening words from Gwen Barlee of the Wilderness Committee which cry out (in my mind at any rate for I don’t speak for the W.C. which certainly doesn’t need my help) for the highest manifestation of protest including civil disobedience:

Tucked away in the wild of northern Vancouver Island, the Kokish River is a treasure for fishers and wilderness lovers alike. The Kokish River, located 15 km east of Port McNeill on northern Vancouver Island, is threatened by a proposed 45 megawatt hydropower project. The river is renowned for its high fish values including endangered summer and winter runs of steelhead.

Thus has begun yet another rape of a river without any public process at all. The deal requires approval from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, which is why the Wilderness Committee is calling on citizens to write to them and demand they reject this project that would unquestionably damage important fish habitat.
 
The proposal is to divert the river through 9 kms of pipe through the generators then back into the river. This river has 2 steelhead runs and all 5 species of Pacific salmon.

Back to Ms. Barlee:
 
Kwagis Power, owned by Brookfield Renewable Power and the Namgis First Nation, has applied to dam and divert the 11 km river into a 9 km pipe. The federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) considers the Kokish to be a high-value river with a sensitive fish population.

The Kokish is a fish-rich river. In addition to the steelhead populations, it is home to five species of wild salmon, coastal cutthroat trout and Dolly Varden.
 
This is an outrage and it must be stopped.
 
Let’s remind ourselves what this means.

In the environmental sense, the river will no longer be the home and breeding point for the salmon and trout which rely upon this river. How the hell can you expect anything else to happen? It is indeed "common sense"!

What also happens is the slow death of the river and its ecology which depend upon the fish in the river for its own survival.

On the fiscal side, here is yet another nail in the BC Hydro coffin. It will be required to take this power during the spring run-off when BC Hydro doesn’t need the power, at double+ what it’s worth in the market or use it at many times over what BC Hydro can make for themselves!
 
Adrian Dix now has a right, and indeed a duty, to speak out loudly and clearly that he and his party condemn this project and that if elected, he will cancel this deal forthwith.
 
As for the premier and her outfit - who have already approved the project without any public consultation - this demonstrates, as if it were needed, her appalling ignorance of environmental and, indeed, fiscal matters. It also indicates the premier’s lack of courage – she evidently wants no controversial matters to spoil her day, assuming that if she just sticks to photo opportunities, her admitted good looks will sway the voters.

Now she gives us all the finger as she hands over yet another of our rivers to her corporate supporters. (I suppose we should be comforted in the knowledge that the Vancouver Board of Trade always gives her a standing ovation.)

This government has squandered at least 3 billion dollars, tripled our provincial debt and is dumb enough to cost the province $35 million dollars by refusing that sum from Telus who offered that if the dome was called Telus Field.
 
It has not just shown no interest in the environment, it has encouraged those who would pillage it for profit, to fill their boots.
 
It has driven BC Hydro into what would be bankruptcy in the private sector and now strikes yet another blow to it by adding the Kokish to the ecological disasters which have been the hallmark of the Campbell/Clark government.
 
More than fifty organizations and individuals - including NHL star Willie Mitchell and yours truly - have signed onto the Wilderness Committee's letter calling for DFO to reject the project. They clearly believe that if the public adds its voice to the chorus, there is a real opportunity to make DFO do the right thing.  
 
 
Rafe Mair was a B.C. MLA 1975 to 1981, Minister of Environment from late 1978 through 1979. Since 1981 he has been a radio talk show host, and is recognized as one of B.C.'s pre-eminent journalists.
 
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