Outgoing MP Dan Ruimy put the Alouette Lake fish ladder on the Liberal government’s radar.
Ruimy and his team prepared a 20-page report and handed it to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. It explains the need for facilities to allow spawning salmon to pass the Hydro dam and return to Alouette Lake. Ruimy said the federal government should both provide funding and take a leadership role.
His replacement, Conservative MP elect Marc Dalton, said he will continue to champion the issue in Ottawa.
Ruimy said his report also went to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and it calls for amendments in the Fisheries Act to help protect salmon stocks.
He is hopeful Hydro can be convinced to install the fish ladder, which he estimates would cost $5 million, if the power company lowers the water level in Alouette Lake, potentially starting this summer, to do seismic upgrades on its dam facilities.
He said the fish ladders should have been built at the same time as the dams.
“This, to me, would be the ideal time to put in safe passage,” said Ruimy, echoing the call from local conservation group Allouette River Management Society (ARMS) to have the long-wanted ladder built.
Ruimy said group president Cheryl Ashlie, ARMS as a whole and the Watershed Watch Salmon Society are all advocates for a new ladder.
“This is something I didn’t want to let go of,” said Ruimy, who lost his seat in Monday’s election. “My goal was to find a way that we can all be at the table.”
Ruimy said federal funding is available for these types of initiatives, to share the burden with Hydro. However, senior government cannot force Hydro to apply for the funding.
Ruimy spoke to Trudeau about the issue when he gave the PM the report. He also pushed the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, which is responsible for protecting salmon stocks, to get involved.
He is aware that Hydro has said the ladder will not be part of its work this summer.
“It’s extremely disappointing, because in the long run it’s so beneficial. Our rivers used to be teeming with salmon – five different species…”
“You have to consider the ramifications of not doing these things.”
Ruimy said there is research on the overwhelming benefits of spawning salmon. They feed animals, enhance biodiversity and improve habitat throughout the watershed.
“We underestimate the impact that little things can have on the environment.”
Dalton said he is aware of the issue, has advocated for safe passage in his role as a provincial MLA, and visited a fish ladders that was built on Vancouver Island. He is also aware that ARMS is trucking limited amounts of salmon past the Alouette dam.
“I’m all for getting a ladder there, but how do we get funding?” he asked.
“We would certainly support it.”