Along its course, the river widens into several lakes, including Onwatin in Hanmer; Kusk off Panache Lake Road (watch out for leeches); Grassy; and Wabagishik, out on the fringes of Ward 2. Lake Wabagishik was made famous by the Group of Seven. Franklin Carmichael painted the lake in 1928 and if you have ever paddled along its waters, you will understand why he was inspired. At the southern end of Wabagishik is a set of rapids where the river narrows once again. It is very picturesque.
I fell in love with the Vermilion River last year when I decided to paddle this stretch in early October. The colours were just starting to pop and the riverbanks were explosively yellow and bright. It was like travelling through the sun. I bottomed out about six times and had to drag my kayak through the chilly shallow waters, but it was well worth the effort.
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)”.
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 →
Please Join us for our Vermilion River Clean-up
The Vermilion River Stewardship is holding its first Vermilion River Clean-up on Wabagishik Lake, scheduled for Sunday, 7 June 2015, from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. We invite you to come out to help clean up the litter in and around the lake and river. Please bring your camera along to help record the event.
You must register to take part in this fun community building event by Monday, 25 May 2015. You can send an email to info@VermilionRiverStewards.ca to let us know that you will participate.
Volunteers should arrive at the Wabagishik Road Boat Launch by 9:45 am (see map below). Everyone will be transported by barge to key shoreline areas where litter and garbage will be collected.
VRS will be providing a barbecue lunch for all our volunteers.
The total amount of garbage collected during the event, and the most interesting find, will be shared on this page. Watch for details to come in the weeks following the event!
Note: Come dressed for the occasion – you should bring along a life jacket, rubber gloves and boots – waders would be a great idea. Read more →
In July of 2014, the Chair of the Vermilion River Stewardship made a presentation to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change staff regarding concerns about heavy metal contamination in the Vermilion River that was not properly addressed by the proponent in consideration of the Wabagishik Rapids Generating Station Environmental Report:
“This proposed Wabagishik Rapids GS ER as written does not meet the criteria of “Sustainable Development”, or contribute to “the betterment of the people of the whole or any part of Ontario by providing for the protection, conservation and wise management in Ontario of the environment.” For all the reasons noted above, this project could compromise ecosystems for decades into the future as well as the ability of our future generations to meet their own needs.
Clean water is essential to life.
In all the years that Part II Order requests have been available to the public as a way to initiate a more rigorous Independent Environmental Assessment, there has never been one granted for a waterpower project. VRS and ORA submit that because of all the serious potential environmental impacts, the lack of attention to crucial components of the proposal, and the seeming inability of Xeneca to step up to the plate and do its due diligence for the environment and the people of Ontario, if ever there was an instance where an elevation is warranted – this would be it.” Read more →
We all want green energy, but let’s ensure it is truly green.
Wabagishik Rapids is a beautiful 1 km stretch of rapids on the Vermilion River, about 1/2 hour west of Sudbury, Ontario. A developer is proposing to build a modified peaking hydroelectric dam that would only produce enough power to supply about 1,600 homes. These types of dams have numerous negative impacts associated with them, and are very harmful to the riverine ecosystem. Check out this film to find out more.