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B.C. Hydro back to talk about powerline

A year after facing the issue, B.C. Hydro will be back in Maple Ridge in June to talk again about its powerline right of way where it crosses the South Alouette River.

“They have gone through an area that has been designated sensitive, so that’s what’s causing the concern,” said Ken Stewart, president of the Alouette River Management Society.

“It does appear that they were using different practices than they have in the past.”

Stewart said it looks like trees were cut down closer to the river than previously. The crossing there was in steep terrain with a big drop to the river, allowing lots of room for trees below and the powerline above.

“There was quite a bit of height there, so it didn’t appear to be necessary to cut them as low as they did.”

Stewart said B.C. Hydro has responded, saying that they’re following standards that have been approved.

He wants to see what those standards are and to ensure Hydro has followed them.

But, “They have been responsive in a positive way,” and said they’ll come and talk about it, Stewart said.

“We do a lot of work with Hydro,” said Stewart, adding he wants to continue to work with the company on getting a fishway over the South Alouette River dam, so migrating salmon can spawn in the Alouette Lake reservoir.

ARMS had similar concerns last year over the powerline, named the Interior to Lower Mainland Project – a 247-kilometre, 500 kV transmission line that runs mostly along an existing right-of-way between Merritt and Coquitlam.

Hydro is widening the right of way in order to twin the lines the entire route.

In February 2013, B.C. Hydro, its contractor Flatiron-Graham, and Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations representatives toured logging sites near the South Alouette River.

Last year, ARMS complained about clear-cutting for the right of way going right to the banks of Clayton Creek, which could cause siltation in the water and water temperatures to climb, hurting fish.

The Malcolm Knapp UBC Research Forest was also concerned that fires could have been sparked by piles of slash left from the powerline clearing. But those piles have been cleaned up and a fire response plan is in place.

Hydro said at the time it was addressing the issue of stream crossings.

Final remediation takes place when tower construction is complete, while for Hydro, in stream areas, “the policy is to retain as much existing vegetation as possible.”

ARMS past-president Geoff Clayton, though, said as far as he knows, Hydro has done no remediation of the streamside areas, or at least hasn’t contacted ARMS about doing so.

Clayton said the area with the South and North Alouette rivers and a “plethora of streams coming down the slopes of Silver Valley” is one of the most sensitive areas the powerline crosses.

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