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On attack over Ashlu Editor, Sudden and dramatic action by the provincial government is resulting in tremendous displeasure being expressed to the provincial government from the municipal level.

On attack over Ashlu


Sudden and dramatic action by the provincial government is resulting in tremendous displeasure being expressed to the provincial government from the municipal level. These new proposed bills may as well be called "Give the Ashlu River to Ledcor" bills. It is the municipal governments and the people who are on the attack now.

Mayors and Councils join Squamish Council, Whistler Council and the Squamish Lillooet Regional District board in opposition to the Liberal government on this one. There are a lot of card-carrying Liberals in those groups who are putting their cards on the table over this.

Municipal zoning rights and access to public information are basic rights, which will not be denied. Here in the Squamish Valley the Regional District had extensive public meetings over a two-year period on a rezoning application to allow a private hydro power project on the Ashlu River at the foot of the Tantalus Glacier. Through due process an informed public overwhelming rejected the private industrial development of this publicly valued river. The Whistler corridor is where 60 of 535 installations of private powerhouses may occur in our province. The province has steadfastly refused to develop a provincial plan. The Regional District has gone to tremendous expense to develop the expertise around types of developments.

The Ledcor-Ashlu project was rejected in January 2005 for all the right reasons. The river and the local public bore all the sacrifices and costs for the project without benefits. It was rejected overwhelmingly. Ledcor hasn't been able to accept that rejection and has continued to work the halls of our provincial government with their very close relationship to the Premier as their trump card. Evidenced in part by a registered donation to the BC Liberal party of $65,000, Ledcor's active participation with the Premier during the last campaign may be the real value leverage in these bills designed to keep the public out of private deals with our provincial government. They are completely unacceptable.

These proposed bills gut local government processes. It is good that the local public has a democratic means to resist the sacrifice of its values to private interests and is one of the landmark features of our democratic process and works very well. Bill 30 would ensure there would be no public resistance.

To add insult to injury, but really to cut the public out of the process even further, here comes Bill 31. This nasty bill is designed to hide information on the private development of our public water resources. Imagine hiding what is most highly valued and priceless to Canadians, control over our fresh water. If passed, local publics will know nothing of the transfers of our rivers to private hands.

The money on the table is extraordinary large - literally ridiculous amounts of money - and it is behind this insidious legislation. Rivers are endless energy sources and they are leaving public hands for what amounts to nothing. The Ashlu river is one of 565 rivers in B.C. in the Independent Hydro Power Projects licensing process. A gold rush which has seen our small hydro-capable rivers go on a first-come, first-served basis to perhaps a very few (and more likely mostly to Ledcor, although we may never know) is continuing unabated. With one Ledcor river project rejected by the public, the provincial government proposes special legislation. Combined, these rivers represent our most significant green renewable energy resources. Transfers are taking place for a tiny percentage of the value of the endless energy they are capable of producing. It is usually bears and fish that are the local inhabitants near these rivers. Local government is the most important public institution through which local publics have legitimate input.

Shame on Premier Gordon Campbell for seeking to strip the public of our Canadian democratic rights and water. We, here at the Ashlu, are doing our part, standing on guard for thee.

Tom Rankin


Rivers must stay public


It has taken years of involvement with the Ashlu private power application to learn what we now know about run of river power projects, which is that our rivers should not be transferred to private hands. Private entities should not take control over our best renewable green energy assets.

The math is simple. We, through BC Hydro, issue a contract for 20 years or longer at escalating prices starting at 10 times the current cost of power to the new private owners of our rivers who pay for their powerhouses and construction costs while making millions. At the end of the contract period the private owner can sell power at whatever the North American market rate will be. These deals are bad for the people of B.C. If the transfer of rivers to private hands continues future generations will be left in conflict with private owners of what are today and should be tomorrow public rivers.

Ken and Trudy Bayers

Upper Squamish Valley

Don't forget waterfront vision


I am a person who chose Squamish as a home for her family in 1999. Like many other residents I can't wait for Squamish to "reach its potential". I was excited about the bid for the Olympics, because it meant that there would be many opportunities for growth and development. On behalf of the Howe Sound Performing Arts Association and the Squamish Arts Council, I had directly lobbied for an Arts Centre in the downtown, and had even approached Nexen for support, expressing interest in their lands, for such a purpose.

When the Nexen Lands were given to the people of Squamish, it was cause for much celebration, for many of us. In late 2003, a very broad spectrum of people came together to work on the Squamish Downtown Waterfront Charrette. All interests were invited, and participated. Although I was not one of the Charrette participants, I did attend the Feb. 12, 2004 presentation. I was absolutely amazed. They had transformed the lands into a type of Granville Island, with lots of green, public space. Most impressive was that they all agreed and were ecstatic about the plan that they had produced. You can see its details on under planning and background.

Together with the help of UBC Sustainable Communities (generally agreed, most knowledgeable members of our society) the Concept Plan was created.

This Plan is the one that the Squamish Oceanfront Development Corporation (SODC) is trying to achieve. They do not have their own agenda, but are working towards realizing the plan developed by our best citizens in every field of interest.

Please, citizens of Squamish, when you hear disgruntled opinions, please do not forget the vision, and please do not forget that the SODC is working on our behalf, to realize our dream of public and private spaces along our beaches and marine ways at the head of Howe Sound. The developers all know what it is that we, the citizens of Squamish expect to see on those lands. Our expectations are shown in black and white as well as colour, and is most clearly articulated.

The SODC is responsible for choosing the partner most able to work with us towards our vision, and we can only expect that they have done so. Onward and upward, keep focused on the positive vision towards which we strive, we, the community of Squamish.

Rose-Marie Carreras

Garibaldi Highlands

Waterfront process works


I have lived in B.C. for 15 years with almost four years on beautiful Howe Sound. As a true outsider, much of my Squamish perspective is gained from reading The Chief and to a lesser degree from time enjoyed in Squamish golfing, hiking, dining and shopping.

In December 2003, I participated in the Nexan Lands Oceanfront Development charrette. It was an incredible first time experience and one that I would highly recommend to others. I'm happy to say that I believe my voice was heard and that I felt empowered by the process.

As managing director and partner of a landscape contracting company that has built many of Vancouver's oceanfront seawalks and municipal parks, I felt obligated to inform fellow participants and new acquaintances, how I made my living and that I considered the Squamish Oceanfront Development a potential business opportunity.

In last week's article "Controversy brews as Oceanfront Corp. picks developer" I was disappointed to see a number of respected Squamish business leaders use your newspaper to openly criticize the selection process without revealing that they too may have business or personal reasons that conflict with this development.

Let's hope we are able to reach a good agreement with our designated candidate and develop this incredible site to its full potential.

Pat O'Brien

Furry Creek

Tree raises awareness as it falls


One of the oldest, most beautiful andlargest trees in Dentville is gone. After standing for a few centuries, the old-growth western red cedar,referred to in this newspaper as a "huge thorn in our side" by the owners of the propertyon which the tree was located, was felled on Wednesday, May 3.

Many people place great value ofneighborhood trees in their living state, as providers of shade, as generators of oxygen, as cleansers of air, as homes for mammals, birds and bugs, as an inheritance given to us in trust to pass on to future generations in perpetuity, asbenefits to the entire community.

Conversely, others view trees in urban settings as a nuisances towering above us, as an expendable assetowned by the titleholder of the property on which it stands, as a commodity to be cut down for the almighty dollar.

Thanks to Mayor Ian Sutherland, Coun. Patricia Heintzman, and District staff Mick Gottardi, Chessy Knight and Gord Prescott, who were involved in the attempt to convince the property owners to not cut down this tree. Thanks also to concerned citizens who showed and voiced their support for preserving this tree, and generally our natural surroundings in this rapidly developing community.

Although saving the tree was not possible,public awareness was raised, as this is but one example in this community of the pressures on the natural environment of Squamish. I strongly encourage the District of Squamish to as soon as possible develop and pass environmental regulations to support its goals and the goals of the Smart Growth on the Ground planning process, which it has adopted, but which can only becomelegally effective with supporting bylaws.

"We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect."

Ron Enns


The trouble with trees


When I saw the article on page A11 of last week's paper I immediately fired up the steam-powered word processor and dashed off a letter regarding the 300-year-old cedar.

It was biting, sarcastic and filled with subtle irony. My editor informed me that neighbourhood relationships shouldn't be jeopardized, even by non-physical confrontations; that it was better to bring out the positive aspects of a situation and use them to reduce the negative aspects. I sent this one instead.

So, the tree is fairly big, though thinning a bit at the top. In actual age it is probably more likely to be 70 to 110 years old (a fact confirmed by a life-long resident of Squamish). The owners are not planning on clear cutting their yard; there is a copse of honey locusts in the front that are a joy in the summer. The cedar is limiting their use of the property and may be causing infrastructure damage; let them cut it down. And then remember that physical confrontations are even more damaging to neighbourhood relationships than non-physical ones.

And, while on the subject of trees and green spaces, I would like to bring out the fact that Dentville is the only area of Squamish without a single public park. We are partially surrounded by green areas that buffer us from the highway and the industrial park but they are zoned Resource or Residential and, even though mostly owned by the district, I would feel much more comfortable if they were to be zoned as parkland. With more and more huge houses on treeless lots we do have to ensure that we will always have trees nearby.

But I don't think that we need a tree bylaw. These things tend to get a bit ah, well confrontational.

Victor Drought