Campaign Publications: BC's Rivers at Risk

05/07/2014 (All day)


Exposing the industrial impacts on BC's wild rivers

The move to exploit BC's wild rivers for private hydropower development has been fraught with controversy. Due to poor planning, a vast majority of river diversion projects are situated in fish habitat, and low environmental standards and lax government oversight have seen the industry beset by repeated environmental transgressions. Indeed, BC government staff revealed that as of January 2014, 18 of 24 river diversion plants in the South Coast region had "unsatisfactory" operating procedures.

In British Columbia, over 800 rivers and lakes have been staked by private power producers, and 75 rivers and creeks – including Big Silver, the Upper Lillooet, Ashlu and Kwoiek – have already been industrialized or are imminently slated to be developed. Fortunately, several recent (and surprising) developments have changed the dynamics around the race to dam and divert our wild rivers.

Read this paper to find out:

  • How many projects have been cancelled or deferred by BC Hydro
  • What California said about BC's environmental laws and river diversion projects
  • How many river diversion projects are actually located in fish habitat
  • What BC's liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry means for our wild rivers
  • How much money BC Hydro is losing selling surplus private hydropower on the open market

Read the full report...

01/30/2013 (All day)


Pulling the plug on private power

Billy Goat, Kookipi, Big Silver, Kokish and Volcano – these interesting names are just a handful of the 800 wild streams and rivers that have been staked for private hydro power development across British Columbia over the last decade.

Triggered by the 2002 BC Energy Plan, which forbade BC Hydro from producing new sources of electricity, BC rivers have been snapped up by industry giants such as General Electric, Brookfield Asset Management and Innergex.

Read this paper to find out:

  • How we can protect our wild rivers and safeguard BC Hydro
  • What confidential documents revealed about environmental accidents at IPPs
  • How recent changes to federal environmental laws have put more of BC's rivers at risk
  • How a change in the definition of self-sufficiency could change the landscape for river diversion projects in BC

By becoming educated about IPPs, the impact on our wild rivers and the threat to BC Hydro, we can promote truly sustainable energy practices and make smart decisions through proper planning, increased democracy and robust environmental standards.

Gwen Barlee | Policy Director
Wilderness Committee

Read the full report...


09/11/2012 (All day)

Ottawa Guts Environmental Protection Laws

Polls repeatedly show that Canadians value honesty, accountability and kindness—attributes that are completely missing these days from the federal government’s approach to the environment.

The government’s sweeping budget bill was a case in point. Tabled on April 26th, 2012, Bill C–38 dedicated over a third of its 420 pages to rolling back environmental legislation that generations of Canadians have fought to establish.

Written with no public consultation, the bill waged war on laws that protect our air and water, on regulations to safeguard fish habitat, on public participation in environmental assessments and on government oversight of large industrial projects.

Read this paper to better understand what these regulatory rollbacks really mean to:

  • the protection of wild salmon and endangered species
  • our fight against climate change
  • the battle to safeguard fresh water and clean air
  • democratic participation and science-based decision making
  • Canada's international reputation

Find out what really needs to be done to protect our environment from coast to coast to coast, and learn about what you can do to ensure that Canada's national heritage—which our parents and grandparents fought to protect—remains intact.

Gwen Barlee | Policy Director
Wilderness Committee

Read the full report...


02/16/2011 - 01:00

People Power: Saving BC’s Wild Rivers

As a child growing up in the Okanagan I often traveled the back country with my dad.  My father was a fan of adventure and a lover of history so many trips consisted of arrowhead hunting, gold panning and searching for old coins while exploring historicBC ghost towns like Fairview, Cascade City, Sandon and Phoenix.

Our travels invariably brought us into contact with the myriad wild creeks and rivers that run through the forests, mountains and meadows of BC. Whether it was enjoying the secret swimming holes in the Kettle River by Grand Forks, marveling at the returning Adams River sockeye, or wading in the Similkameen River searching for the perfect skipping stone, wild rivers were an intrinsic part of my life growing up.

02/01/2011 (All day)

When it brought in its Clean Energy Act in 2010, the Government of British Columbia (BC) included as a provincial energy policy objective the promotion of electricity exports from clean or renewable sources.

The government sees electricity exports as being both a significant means of economic development for BC and an opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in importing jurisdictions. Critics of the revised policy, however, are concerned about the environmental and social impacts of developing new a energy supply for export, and question the economic rationale for a net export policy.


10/01/2009 (All day)

Photo: BC Hydro's Revelstoke Dam

In the ongoing fight to keep BC's rivers wild and power public, as our province moves to lower our greenhouse gas emmissions, it is useful to know where and how electricity is generated in BC. This report, compliled by long-time enviro-researher Trevor Jones, lists elecrical generation stations in BC.

BC's elecrical generation system is mostly publically owned, and already has one of the lowest greenhouse gas emmission records of any system on Earth. Through conservation, and smart policy choices, such as focusing on more transit - not more freeways, BC can use our publically owned power system to greatly reduce our over-all greenhouse gas emmissions.

But before we can do that, we all need to understand some of the basics. This report does that - it answers the question "How much electricity do we have and where does it come from?"

09/15/2009 (All day)

Wild places like Bute Inlet and Glacier/Howser Creeks are not only scenic areas, they are just a few of the hundreds of rivers and creeks that have become flash points over the last three years in the battle that is raging over private hydropower projects in BC.

From the Kootenays to the Sunshine Coast, over 800 of British Columbia’s water bodies have been staked by corporations which now include large multinational players such as General Electric.

People may wonder how this gold rush for our public wealth began. The trigger was the 2002 BC Energy Plan, introduced shortly after the BC Liberals were elected, which forbade BC Hydro from competing with the private sector by barring it from producing new sources of electricity. At the same time it directed BC Hydro to meet future projected electricity needs by purchasing energy from private power developers. Since that time there has been a phenomenal 1,140 percent increase in these so-called “independent power project” applications throughout BC.

03/24/2009 - 17:00

If you like fishing or camping, the laws that are enacted to protect our parks, forests, rivers and wildlife are important to you too. In fact, we all depend on the environment for everything from clean air, pure water and greenhouse gas storage to recreation, nature appreciation and inspiration for arts and culture. That’s why the laws and regulations that are in place to protect our environment impact your life in a thousand different ways every day.

We own the clean drinking water and beautiful wilderness landscapes that sustain our bodies and spirit as well as our wildlife and our tourism industry. Even our agricultural lands, which tend to be in private hands, are protected for the common good within the Agricultural Land Reserve. But what about the future? If we could create a future we all want, what would it look like?

01/28/2008 - 01:00

When most people think of a "run-of-river" power project they visualize a free-flowing river with a small turbine generating electricity. The reality is far different. Typically, up to 80-90 percent of the mean annual discharge of a river is diverted into a pipe, which channels water downhill for several kilometers to a turbine where electricity is generated and the water returned to the ecosystem. Natural seasonal fluctuations in river flow will be blunted and there will be fewer aquatic insects, and less gravel and woody debris, all of which negatively impact stream health...Read this educational report

11/07/2007 (All day)

This report commissioned by BC Hydro shows British Columbia need not be using any more electrical power in 2027 than we did in 2007. The solution to our power needs is... conservation.