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Maple Ridge conservation group supports Katzie in case against Hydro

ARMS said province should build fish ladder to ‘right this historic wrong’
Ken Stewart, president of the Alouette River Management Society. (The News files)

The Alouette River Management Society (ARMS) announced this week that it supports Katzie First Nation in its legal fight against BC Hydro.

The Katzie have filed a supreme court claim against BC Hydro regarding the electric company’s commitment to mitigate the impacts of its activities on Katzie First Nation’s rights in the Alouette River system. A central issue is the Alouette Dam, and it’s lack of a fish ladder to allow spawning salmon to get past the dam. Also named in the lawsuit is the provincial Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation.

READ ALSO: Katzie First Nations suing BC Hydro, the province

ARMS said the conservation group and the Katzie have worked for decades to address “the catastrophic impacts of BC Hydro’s activities in the Alouette River system on all five Pacific salmon species and trout.”

“The original Alouette Dam dramatically impacted the ability of returning salmon to successfully spawn in the Alouette River system by cutting off access to the vital spawning grounds above the dam,” said ARMS president, Ken Stewart. “The Alouette Sockeye, Chinook and Pink salmon species were completely extirpated from the region, and all other species have suffered alarmingly low rates of return.”

Stewart said ARMS understands the significance of the Alouette River salmon to the Katzie culture, society, and economy, and supports Katzie in its long-standing efforts to hold BC Hydro to its promise to secure the development of salmon passage infrastructure on the Alouette dam.

The Katzie case against Hydro resonates with ARMS, because both groups have spent decades trying to get Hydro to build a fish ladder, and are continually frustrated by delays, he said.

“We have seen the Province of BC and BC Hydro make promises to ARMS and Katzie First Nation regarding salmon passage restoration for many years, and we have yet to see one of these promises come to fruition,” said Stewart.

He said the support from ARMS will not be financial, but ARMS can provide information and perspective about the salmon runs and the river.

The feasibility studies have been done, and safe, effective and cost-efficient salmon passage infrastructure over the Alouette dam is possible, said Stewart.

“Restoring a strong self-sustaining run of all five species of Pacific Salmon in the Alouette River and Alouette Reservoir would be a historical, ecological, social and economic win-win-win for Katzie First Nation, the City of Maple Ridge and the ratepayers of BC Hydro,” he said.

“At this point, it’s simply a matter of whether BC Hydro will finally come to the table in good faith to right this historic wrong and take actions which align with its stated concern for environmental sustainability and reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.”

The Katzie welcomed the support of the conservation group.

“ARMS has always been a supporter of both our nation and the health of the Alouette River ecosystem, including the all-important Alouette salmon,” said Katzie Chief Grace George. “ARMS is a true partner with Katzie First Nation and share our goals of restoring the Alouette watershed to what it once was, so it can be of the greatest benefit for all of us. ARMS is also “walking the talk” towards true reconciliation, while BC Hydro just talks about it.”

To date, neither BC Hydro nor the provincial government have filed a response to the Katzie claims.

READ ALSO: Maple Ridge agencies celebrating nomination for Premier’s Excellence award

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Neil Corbett

About the Author: Neil Corbett

I have been a journalist for more than 30 years, the past decade with the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News.
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