Slide from a presentation give last week to the Keremeos village council regarding a proposed dam on the Similkameen River.

Slide from a presentation give last week to the Keremeos village council regarding a proposed dam on the Similkameen River.

Politicians perplexed by lack of details for proposed Princeton dam

FortisBC has two years to investigate project, but some local officials are wondering why more information hasn't come forward yet

Time is now ticking on a two-year clock FortisBC has been given to investigate the feasibility of a new hydroelectric dam that has already generated concern among some local politicians.

The company was recently issued an investigative permit for the project proposed for the Similkameen River near the Copper Mountain Mine site 15 kilometres south of Princeton, and is now ramping up public consultation efforts.

FortisBC representatives made a presentation to Keremeos village council last week and this week are scheduled to meet with the Similkameen Valley Planning Society, which is working on a regional watershed plan that would be impacted greatly by a new dam.

“I invited them just to make sure that right from the beginning we know where it’s at,” said Keremeos Mayor Manfred Bauer, who is also the chairman of the planning society.

“The presentation they delivered was fair and square, but how deep they’re going to go in regard to consultation… remains to be seen,” he said.

“Obviously we’re all skeptical when it comes to projects of that kind of dimension.”

Another local politician is anxious to find out how far downstream benefits from the dam might flow and how that could affect B.C. residents’ interests.

“I’m disappointed Fortis has not come forward with more information,” said Brad Hope, who represents rural Princeton on the board of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen.

So far, the company has revealed only what was in its application to the B.C. government for the investigative permit, which will allow it to do studies around the proposed dam site, particularly in the area upstream that would be flooded.

The dam itself is proposed to be up to 200 metres tall and 477 metres long, and create a 750-hectare reservoir behind it, according to the application, which notes the dam would generate between 45 and 65 megawatts of electricity. The B.C. government does not require proposed hydroelectric projects under 50 megawatts to go through a full environmental assessment.

FortisBC’s application also states the dam’s power output would supply the company’s service area, while the reservoir would provide “numerous downstream benefits” like flood mitigation and flow shaping in Canada and the U.S.

Hope wants more specific details.

“There may be some great flood-control benefits, electrical benefits and all of those things, (but) we don’t know that at this time,” he said.

“This is a major project and I don’t believe companies go into major projects without pretty good ideas of what the revenue stream will be and what the commitments will be, especially when some of those commitments may be south of the border.”

FortisBC spokeswoman Ruth Sulentich said the company intends to reach out in the weeks ahead to leaders in each of the communities that would be affected by the dam, and has already had discussions with local First Nations.

She cautioned that the company is still in the very early stages of exploring the feasibility of the project and extensive public consultation would be required before it received permission to move ahead.

FortisBC corporate services manager Bob Gibney told the RDOS board in February the company expects to decide by the end of the year if the project is viable, and noted it’s “extremely economically fragile at this point.”



Just Posted

Longtime SOWINS volunteer Diane Fru (far left) walks with members of her family as they Walk To End Abuse Sunday, June 13, 2021. South Okanagan Women In Needs Society (SOWINS) raised a record amount this year. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Walk to End Abuse in South Okanagan breaks fundraising record

More than $53,000 raised so far while the pandemic has increased need for SOWINS’ services

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

RCMP thanked the public for assistance in finding Benjamin Archie, last seen in Princeton. (RCMP)
Missing Chilliwack man found safe and sound

The 80-year-old had walked away from his home in Chilliwack

Princeton’s Spotlight wins two provincial awards for excellence

Publisher takes first place for investigative reporting

Princeton GSAR responds 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. In 2020 the crew was called out 34 times, and members spent 721 hours on calls, and 683 hours training. Photo Princeton GSAR Facebook
Teen missing in Manning Park found after 24 hours

Young man spends night on mountain and survives with just a few scrapes

Singer-songwriter Jann Arden is pictured with a draft horse. (Canadian Horse Defence Coalition)
Jann Arden backs petition to stop live horse export

June 14 is the International Day to End Live Export of Animals

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

(Dave Ogilvie photo)
One injured after being pinned by fallen forklift near Peachland

West Kelowna emergency crews responded to reports of a person stuck under a forklift

Penticton Overdose Prevention Society co-founders Desiree Franz, Shane Surowski and Stephanie Lines have created the city’s first unsanctioned public overdose prevention site using an old wine-tour bus. The site began operations in June 2021. (Desiree Franz/Facebook)
Volunteers launch Penticton’s first public supervised injection site

2021 is on pace to be the deadliest year for overdoses in Penticton on record

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

B.C. ambulance station in Revelstoke is expected to get a new system called the Scheduled On-Call (SOC) this fall. (Liam Harrap - Revelstoke Review)
B.C. ambulance changes could put Revelstoke residents at risk, warn local paramedics

Paramedics said to expect a substantial increase in ambulance response time starting this fall

This goose family went for a leisurely stroll down Vernon’s Main Street Saturday, April 25. (Dave Deshane photo)
Controversial Vernon goose cull won’t fly this year

Necessary permit procedures held up at a federal level

Mounties cover a burgundy truck with a tent at Buckerfields in West Kelowna on Monday, June 14. The RCMP is investigating after a woman’s body was found inside the truck. (Amandalina Letterio/Capital News)
West Kelowna RCMP investigating suspicious death after body found in truck

Police responded to a truck parked out front of a Main Street business where the body was found

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

Most Read