Cheslatta plan proposed hydroelectric project; will work with RTA on water licence issues

On Monday, Cheslatta Carrier Nation Chief Richard Peters handed over a water licence application to FrontCounterBC manager Tim Mergen.

Another hydroelectric project is being proposed for northern British Columbia.

However, this one is being viewed as an environmental restoration project more than a power project. And, it will go a long way towards righting a First Nation injustice.

On Monday, Cheslatta Carrier Nation Chief Richard Peters handed over a water licence application to FrontCounterBC manager Tim Mergen.

The application is the start of Nechako River Legacy Project, a $280 million project that would see water directed from the Kenney Dam reservoir back into the old Nechako River and the construction of a 45-megawatt hydroelectric project.

“Submitting this application formally starts the process of getting back the water that was taken from us 62 years ago when the government issued a private company license to all of the water in Cheslatta Traditional Territory,” said Peters.

That occurred when the Kenney Dam was built in 1952. The result was the flooding of a large portion of the Cheslatta territory, including cemeteries.

Even though it was 62 years ago, remains are still being discovered in Cheslatta Lake, the latest being last week.

“Until the Cheslatta is back to a state it was formrly at, we will continue to find bones,” said Peters. “It’s a very painstaking event to go and find human remains and try to find out who they belong to. People can’t relate to that idea of us finding our ancestors in the lake.”

Water release from the Skins Lake Spillway causes water fluctuations in Cheslatta Lake, which then erodes the shoreline uncovering the human remains. The Nechako River Legacy Project is designed to stop the flooding of Cheslatta Lake and release the reservoir water directly into the old Nechako River. That would result in water flowing through a five-mile long course in the Nechako canyon that has been dry since 1952.

The work now for the Cheslatta is two-fold – get all the permits and approvals in place, and raising enough money to fund the project.

The permits and approvals include securing a electricity purchase agreement with BC Hydro and an agreement with Rio Tinto Alcan, which currently holds the water licence for 100 per cent of the water in the Nechako.

“Once we get an energy purchase in place, then we’re going to seek private investors to finance the project,” said Mike Robertson, senior policy advisor for the Cheslatta. “There possibly could be some federal and provincial funding, but we’re not counting on that.”

The key discussions will be with Rio Tinto Alcan.

“The same water is going to be coming downstream, we just need to hold the licence ourselves in order to finance and get the approvals,” said Peters. “But, of course, Alcan also owns the Kenney Dam so we have to come to arrangements on access and some property out there.”

The project will be adjacent to the Kenney Dam, basically another spillway. The project will have to go through an environmental review process. If all the pieces fall into place, the Cheslatta are optimistic that they could begin construction within three years.

Human remains that are being found are being examined at UNBC. The Cheslatta are building a tomb for the remains and will eventually re-bury the remains.

– Bill Phillips, Prince George Free Press

Just Posted

Outside the Kitimat RCMP police station, Diversity Morgan’s family and Kitimat RCMP come together for a pride flag-raising ceremony. (Jacob Lubberts photo)
Kitimat RCMP host pride flag ceremony in memory of Diversity Morgan

“We’re gathered here in solidarity for anyone who’s ever experienced prejudice or discrimination”

(Haisla First Nation logo)
Haisla Nation host walk for strength and series of virtual sessions for Indigenous History Month

The purpose of the walk is to bring Haisla Nation members together and show their collective support

The District of Kitimat will be awarding business owners with a store front up to $5,000 to cover up to 50 per cent of exterior renovations. (Norhtern Development logo)
The District of Kitimat is awarding $5,000 to storefront owners for exterior renovations

The district has set aside $20,000 this year and non-profits are also eligible

Ron getting loose and sipping a glass of the family’s favourite greek amber spirit, Metaxa. (Photo supplied)
In Our Valley: Ron Lechner

Retired part-time singer and Rio Tinto lifer: Ron Lechner

Map of the road work that will be completed this summer. The streets highlighted in red are what the district planned on completing before additional funding, and the streets highlighted in orange is the road works that will be done with the additional funding. (District of Kitimat photo)
$1.1 million allocated for road work this year in Kitimat

Kitimat council has added $470,000 for more work by deferring four other projects.

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Patrick O’Brien, a 75-year-old fisherman, went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search for lost fisherman near Victoria suspended, U.S. Coast Guard says

The 75-year-old man was reported missing Thursday evening

Most Read