Directors request more time to respond to disposition notice

The regional district will make a request to the province to extend the deadline for a Fortis application

The regional district will make a request to the province to extend the deadline for a Fortis  application for Disposition of Crown Land for an additional four weeks.

The decision was made after Area “H” Director Brad Hope told the board that he felt the public had not had sufficient time to be informed about Fortis’ intention to apply for a permit to investigate the prospect of a hydro dam on the  Similkameen River approximately 25 kilometres upstream and south of  Princeton.

“I think everything is following the pattern it should,” Hope explained to the board, “but I’ve had a number of phone calls and letters about it. Fortis has not done a good job of explaining it.”

A notice of intent to apply for a disposition of Crown Land appeared in Princeton newspapers on July 30 of this year. The deadline for comments on Fortis’  application was set at August 23. The newspaper notice contained little information, in addition to a map that lacked much detail.

“A search of their website doesn’t turn up much,” Hope added, “and I feel the application is more for a license than for disposition.” Hope asked the board to consider asking for a three to four week extension on the deadline for comment.

Oliver rural Director Allan Patton asked if the two Similkameen Indian bands had been properly notified.

“I don’t know,” responded Hope, “I can’t guarantee that.”

Area “B” Director George Bush informed the board that the four Similkameen directors met with Fortis earlier in the week to discuss the issue. He said that  Fortis was asking for a permit to investigate (the viability of a a dam) through a five year permit. If an Environmental Assessment passes, the permit could turn into a lease.

“The average citizen doesn’t know that,” Hope responded, “people need an opportunity to hear that.”

The board voted in favour of a recommendation to request the province to extend the Fortis deadline for an additional four weeks.

The so-called “Canyon Dam” is an early-stage proposal from Fortis, which purchased the former Princeton Power and Light, the company that proposed a dam at this same site in the early 1990s. The dam, which could be up to 200 m high, would be built in the canyon 25 km south of Princeton. It is intended as both a power and a flood-control structure. Construction would create a reservoir upriver of the canyon 13 kilometres long.