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Squamish council splits on Ashlu vote

Debate continues in Squamish over a proposed independent power project (IPP) in the Ashlu River.

Debate continues in Squamish over a proposed independent power project (IPP) in the Ashlu River.

Council for the District of Squamish split right down the middle on a motion to send a letter to Victoria reiterating its opposition to the Ashlu IPP proposal, preferring instead to fight Bill 30, which grants Victoria the right to decide local energy project rezoning applications.

During the District of Squamish council meeting Tuesday (May 16), council members heard how the proposed Ledcor Ashlu IPP will devastate recreational use of the river.

They also heard that the Squamish Nation wants the project for the jobs it will create "for our children and our children's children".

Squamish Nation representative Dale Harry said he was offended by a recent letter to the editor in The Chief in which the Squamish Nation was chastised for accepting "trinkets" in exchange for their support of the Ashlu deal.

"The Squamish Nation always said it was open for business," said Harry. "But not at the expense of the Squamish Nation or the community of Squamish."

Stuart Smith of the Sea to Sky Community Coalition for Rivers and Power said his organization formed to create a planned approach to energy production in the area. He said his organization has tried for months to get information on the Ashlu proposal but despite assurances from the province, he has yet to receive what he seeks. He said the province is inundated with application for IPPs and appears to have no framework in which to consider them.

"It's abundantly evident there isn't a thorough enough process," he said.

Harry and Smith approached council in response to Coun. Corinne Lonsdale's motion to reiterate past council's position that it is against the Ashlu IPP proposal. Lonsdale's motion came as a response to Bill 30.

Mayor Ian Sutherland said Lonsdale's motion should be voted down and all energies should be put toward fighting Bill 30.

"If we don't get Bill 30 repealed, it won't make a difference anyway," he said.

Sutherland added that he does not want to lose the friendship of the Squamish Nation. Lonsdale said she believes the Squamish Nation would never "hold us to ransom" and dismissed Sutherland's comments as "fear mongering."

The motion to write a letter protesting the Ashlu IPP was rejected on a tie vote, with Coun. Mike Jenson, Heintzman and Lonsdale in favour and Sutherland, Kahlon and Coun. Jeff McKenzie opposed.

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