As a result of our site visit of the Wabagishik facility on the 26thof February of this year, and your reassurance that the facility will continue to operate in accordance with the current Spanish and Vermilion Rivers Water Management Plan, with no anticipated changes to water levels, flows, sediment mobility or fish habitat, we have no concerns with the Project. In fact, the increased capacity of the new spillway to not fail under the 1:1000 year return event will ensure resilience in the face of the predicted increasing extremes of Climate Change.
Bob Florean is retired from 38 years working for the Ministry of Natural Resources & Forestry, as a Fish & Wildlife Specialist and Stewardship Coordinator. Bob is also an avid fisherman, whose outdoor related passions include working with various community stewardship champions to enhance, protect and restore compromised natural resource values. Bob is also the founder of the award winning Manitoulin Streams Improvement Assoc.
VRS crew visit Wabagishik Generating Station at Lorne Falls, on the Vermilion River.VRS crew at spillway.
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October 26, 2013, the Sudbury Star
We can hear the rapids before we see them, a sibilant rumble that sounds almost like the name of the place we’re visiting.
Wabagishik, the word for both the whitewater ahead and the wind-ruffled lake behind us, turns out, however, to be only accidentally onomatopoeic. According to Linda Heron of the Ontario Rivers Alliance, who consulted a First Nations teacher for the definition, it’s the Ojibwe term for white cedar.
An update on the previous post found here.
It appears that what we thought was a done deal, is still uncertain. Xeneca has now invited all requesters to take part in a Project Liaison Committee meeting.
On the 11th of July, 2016, shortly after receiving the lists indicating that all of Xeneca’s FIT Contracts had been terminated, ORA and VRS wrote to the Minister protesting his decision to approve the Wabagishik Rapids GS, with conditions, on the grounds that it was based upon inaccurate and unsupported responses contained within the Ministry Review (Review) document, Xeneca Power Development Inc.’s (Xeneca) correspondence, and the Environmental Report (ER). The Minister’s office responded on the 16th of August, 2016, basically declaring that if we had questions about what was or was not contained in the ER that we should ask Mark Holmes. On that same day, Xeneca contacted the Chair of ORA and VRS with an invitation to attend the PLC. Read more →
Wabagishik Rapids, Vermilion River
The Vermilion River has been under threat from the proposed development of 4 modified run-of-river hydroelectric facilities since finding out about them late in 2010. The proposed Wabagishik Rapids Generating Station was the first of the 4 to move forward, and in November of 2013, the Vermilion River Stewardship, Ontario Rivers Alliance, and over twenty other individuals and organizations made Part II Order requests to the Minister of Environment, indicating that in our opinion Xeneca Power Development Inc. (Xeneca) did not meet the requirements of the Class EA for Waterpower in several areas, and requested that the Environmental Report (ER) be elevated to an Individual Environmental Assessment, a more rigorous environmental assessment. Read more →
What was found in the document was encouraging, and yet at the same time very concerning. It was encouraging to see that MOE concurred with ORA and VRS, when it reported “NR’s review of the ER indicated that in several instances, the proponent has not met the requirements of the Waterpower Class EA”; however, it was disturbing that “EAB has indicated they are considering denying the Part II Order requests with conditions, noting that it may be possible to impose detailed conditions to ensure all outstanding concerns are addressed”. This referenced document goes on to express the questions, concerns and uncertainty of how to deal with this deficient ER, and whether this would “expose the Ministry to any risk (ie: other proponents seeking the same level of direction during the proponent-driven EA process, or liability issues if the approach taken leads to unforeseen negative impacts on the environment or other users)”.
I am writing on behalf of the Board of Directors for the Vermilion River Stewardship (VRS), to express our disappointment in the unprincipled way in which the proposed Capreol Cedar Rapids Waterpower project (project) was placed before the City of Sudbury’s Planning Committee for endorsement, without first notifying VRS, a registered stakeholder, that the project was being modified in order to make application for a Feed-In-Tariff (FIT) contract. A simple email to myself alerting of your intention to reduce the Installed Capacity of the proposed project from 1 MW to 500 kW, in order to qualify under FIT 4, would have provided VRS with the opportunity to speak to the Planning Committee about our concerns with the project.
Given your past interest in one or more of our projects we wish to advise that Xeneca Power Development is proceeding through a restructuring process brought about by significantly extended development timelines, increased regulatory requirements and exposure to rapidly escalating environmental, permitting, development and civil costs. Due to the above noted delays and costs that were not contemplated in Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) pricing and contract timelines, project economic viability has, in some cases, been driven into a negative position, and, as such, it is expected that some FIT contracts will be cancelled in order that those projects can be bid into Ontario’s upcoming Large Renewable Procurement (LRP) program. (Read letter below.)
It doesn’t look good for Xeneca, but it’s looking great for Ontario rivers.
Xeneca had 19 waterpower sites going through the environmental assessment and approvals process, and reliable sources say they are trying to auction off the company to the highest bidder.
So now we’re waiting to see how everything settles out.
Wherever Xeneca has gone they have stirred up a hornets’ nest – so who would ever want to buy into that mess? Read more →