By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: Jan. 25, 2012.
Squamish council passed a motion at the committee of the whole meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 24, expressing its support for the Skookum Creek Power Project, subject to a few conditions.
With Coun. Bryan Raiser opposed, the council resolved to write a letter of support to the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources.
The council, however, laid down two conditions: First, the proponents should get endorsement from Squamish Off-Road Cycling Association, and Squamish Dirt Bike Association (SDBA), and the Squamish Paddling Club.
Second, the proponent should support District of Squamish boundary expansion, without which the district can’t hope to get any of the taxes on the project.
The Indepent Power Project (IPP) on Skookum Creek, located 12 kilometres east of Squamish, is a $92 million project and is expected to generate 25 MW of electricity.
Run of River Power Inc. CEO Rick Hopp made an hour long presentation addressing council concerns about the project.
He also highlighted the economic benefits to Squamish: Over $570,000 in property taxes, almost 600 direct and indirect jobs and $8 million of GDP generated as a result of spending by workers.
Industries directly supplying goods and services used by the project are also expected to generate $35 million of GDP, the proponents claimed.
With no construction camps on site, workers would be spending money at local hotels, restaurants, and stores for almost two years, Hopp noted.
The company will soon sign Key Principles Agreement with SORCA and SDBA.
“It’s at the final stages and we are expecting it to be signed soon,” said Kristen Langan, corporate communications for ROR.
Both trail user groups had raised alarm over key mountain biking trails the project could roil.
The project would impinge on at least 20 trails, said SORCA’s Mike Nelson, who has been negotiating with the company for over the past few months.
The company is also working with Mamquam River Access Society to mitigate any negative effects the project might have on kayaking and other recreational sports.
The environmental assessment for the project has also been completed.
“Extensive impact assessments studies conducted over the last four years show no significant impacts to fish or fish habitats,” Langan said.
Joshua Joseph, Squamish Nation councillor, also threw his support behind the project at the meeting.
The proponents had signed a long-term Impact Benefit Agreement with the Squamish Nation last December.