Ken Stewart will continue to be president of Alouette River Management Society (ARMS), and the former MLA sees a busy year ahead for the conservation group.
ARMS held its annual general meeting on April 8, returning Stewart to the top job. A former MLA and city councillor, Stewart heads ARMS as key issues come to a head, as it prepares to protect the watershed from a Maple Ridge city hall development, and lobbies to have BC Hydro work to restore salmon runs in the Alouette watershed.
For years, ARMS has challenged Hydro over the issue of entrainment – when fish become trapped and effectively removed from their population. Hydro is in the process of renewing its water licence for the Alouette River, so ARMS sees this as a time when it can push the issue of a fish ladder and other infrastructure that will allow salmon to swim up the river to Alouette Lake to spawn, and return safely to the ocean.
“If Hydro gets that (water licence), there is really no sway that we have over them,” said Stewart. “We have no problem with them getting a water licence, if they do the things they should have done.”
ARMS has long maintained electric utility companies should have built infrastructure that would salmon to spawn and safety return to the Pacific Ocean in the 1920s, when the Stave Falls Dam and the Alouette Dam were being built. Hydro’s water licence expired in 2019.
Another issue is Maple Ridge council’s approval of a residential development in the flood plain. It’s a fight that is likely headed for the courts, said Stewart. The proposal to put 26 new homes near the South Alouette River in the 12500 block of 240th Street has been controversial, and is opposed by ARMS, which has called for an environmental impact assessment.
Stewart said if and when the city passes the subdivision bylaw, ARMS will be asking for a judicial review of the process, and contends the city “missed some steps.”
He noted there are three former city councillors with ARMS, and they can’t believe the subdivision in the flood plain has been allowed to proceed to this point. There is flood danger for residents, and damage to the river system, he maintains.
The society is assisting with the operation of the Allco Fish Hatchery programs with BC Corrections. It continues to run education and advocacy programs, despite operating in the COVID-19 environment, with public health orders limiting activities.
There are 14 ARMS directors, including vice-president John Dale, past-president Cheryl Ashlie and treasurer Doug Stranger.
A complete report on ARMS activities for the past year can be found at alouetteriver.org
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