River group wants fish passage way over the dam before new water licence is issued. (THE NEWS – files)

Alouette River partnership still alive

Only one meeting since being formed to lobby BC Hydro

A four-way pact formed last year to pressure BC Hydro to build a fish passage to Alouette Lake Reservoir has met only once since and hasn’t yet met to discuss its goals with the power company.

The Alouette River Ecosystem Partnership was formed in 2018 to lobby for certain conditions, one of which is building a fish passage over the Alouette dam, before BC Hydro renews one of its water licences for the Alouette River.

The partnership involves the City of Maple Ridge and Alouette River Management Society, as well as Katzie and Kwantlen First Nations.

The major demand of the partnership is for the province and BC Hydro to build the long-sought fish passage connecting the Alouette River to Alouette Lake reservoir in order to re-establish salmon runs. Fish access to the lake has been blocked since the Alouette dam was built in 1926.

But according to a Dec. 3 Maple Ridge staff report, there haven’t been any discussions yet with BC Hydro.

A meeting between Hydro and the partnership planned for last spring never took place, while the partnership’s steering committee has met only once.

Since then, city staff have tried to set up another meeting involving the partnership and Hydro, but that hasn’t happened either.

If it’s not possible to bring the partnership and Hydro together in the first three months of 2020, the city could pursue the river issues by itself, said the report.

“We’ve been striving to bring all the parties around the table as a group and we’ve not been able to do that,” said Dave Pollock, general manager of engineering services with the city. However, he added that BC Hydro has said it would meet in the new year.

ARMS president Cheryl Ashlie said all groups still believe in the partnership but schedules have prevented meetings. “Everybody is still committed,” Ashlie said.

She added that she’s asked MLAs Bob D’Eith and Lisa Beare to set up a meeting with the provincial water comptroller ,which issues water licences.

Ashlie added that the government, “should bring BC Hydro into the 20th Century,” and restructure it so the environment is part of its mission.

“We want the fish passage condition put on all aspects of what BC Hydro does,” said Ashlie.

BC Hydro expects to post a draft report of the Alouette Water Use Plan in the new year.

Hydro has perpetual water licenses for two of three water licenses granted to operate the Alouette and Stave generating systems.

The Alouette reservoir discharges to either Stave Lake Reservoir, via a diversion tunnel and the Alouette generating station, or via the Alouette River over a spillway and/or low-level outlet, according to BC Hydro’s website.



pmelnychuk@mapleridgenews.com

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