Letters to the Editor: Elk River; Wayne Stetski; and the environment

This week's Letters to the Editor on the Elk River, the environment, and NDP MP Wayne Stetski.

Letter to the Editor re: Still Some Issues on the Elk River

This letter is in response to the notice posted by BC Hydro in the Oct. 29, 2015 edition of The Free Press titled “Important information Elko warning system project completed.”

On behalf of local paddlers I would like to thank BC Hydro for taking the first step in making paddling on the Elk River safer.

However, the Elko Warning System only provides warning to river users of some impending gate changes and only covers the Elk River between the Elko Dam and the power house, a section representing about five per cent of the Elk River below the Elko Dam.

All of the Elk River downstream of the Elko Dam is affected by Elko Dam operations. The Elk River below the Elko Dam is divided by river users into sections based on the difficulty of the river run. The Elk River sections below the Elko Dam are the Upper Elk, Upper Lower Elk and the Lower Elk. The Upper Elk extends from the Elko Dam to the power house. The Upper Lower Elk extends from the power house to the gas line. The Lower Elk extends from the gas line to Lake Kookanusa.

The Elk River users include fishermen, whitewater kayakers and local commercial raft guiding companies that have a significant impact on the local economy.

Now that the alarm system is in place on the upper Elk, perhaps we can focus on two other issues related to dam operations that impact all downstream river users and river life.  These issues are the water release from the dam and Elk River access.

Water release is significant because it affects all downstream river users.  This past summer water releases from the dam were frequent, fast and large.  The river level was going from low crystal clear water to dirty brown flood conditions in a minute or two.  During these releases, many large logs were flushed down the river and the water turned a frothy dark dirty brown colour with a foul smell.

The change in river flow was so large that some paddlers could not cope with the increased level of difficulty.  To make matters worse, the water releases were so sudden that downstream users had no time to safely get off the river.  Rapid river flow changes also present a danger to fishermen who often wade out into the river.

Lastly, what is the impact of frequent large water flow and sediment rate changes on downstream fishing and fish populations?

It would be beneficial to downstream river users and river life if BC Hydro could restrict the rate of change in river flow, such that the change would occur over a longer period of time and be restricted to a percentage of base flow (flow prior to change).

River access through BC Hydro land is required to paddle the Upper and Upper Lower sections of the Elk River.  These sections of the Elk River are spectacular and draw paddlers from all over the world.  Access is required so paddlers can safely access the river without interfering with BC Hydro Operations and for emergency egress in the event of an injury on the river.

Prior to a few years ago, there were no issues accessing the Elk River through BC Hydro land.  However, over the last few years, there have been many unnecessary altercations between paddlers wanting to access the river and BC Hydro staff wanting to prevent paddlers from crossing BC Hydro property.   If BC Hydro and Elk River users would work together to establish approved access/egress corridors through BC Hydro property, then this issue could be resolved in the best interests of all stakeholders.

BC Hydro has made a positive step towards making the Elk River safer for river users on the upper section of the Elk River.  Hopefully we can maintain the momentum and work together to make all river sections downstream of the Elko Dam safer for everyone.

James HurdalElko, BC


Letter to the Editor re: Wayne Stetski

The dust has barely settled on our federal election, and already rumours are circulating about Kootenay-Columbia’s MP-elect Wayne Stetski.

Mr. Stetski has made it no secret of his close relationship with the Trudeau family, particularly our Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau. It has also been stated in the media that Mr. Stetski was invited by both the Liberal and the NDP to represent them in the federal election. As we all know, Mr. Stetski chose to run under the NDP/Mulcair banner.

Rumours have surfaced of Mr. Stetski’s intention to cross the floor of the House of Commons to join the governing Liberal party and sit as a member of the Liberal caucus.

This rumour is concerning to me , as an elector and constituent of the Kootenay-Columbia riding. Should it be true, this would be an ultimate betrayal of the loyal supporters of Mr. Mulcair and the NDP party who were responsible for placing Mr. Stetski  in this privileged position of representing the people of the riding.

And also I put the question to Mr. Stetski to allow him to publicly put this matter to rest. Can you please clear the air and assure your constituents that you intend to represent them, as elected, as a member of the NDP party. To do otherwise would suggest that your representation under the NDP banner was simply a calculated maneuver to get elected, knowing that to run as a Liberal in this riding offers virtually no chance of being elected.

Igor GallyamovVia Email


Letter to the Editor re: New government and the environment

Will new government find its place in the sun?

Over the past year’s build-up towards the Paris Climate Summit in November, several events have transformed the landscape of the climate change issue. One might suggest we’re at a tipping point.  As Amory Lovins, Chief Scientist at Rocky Mountain Institute, has said, “Paris may mark the crucial shift of the climate conversation from cost, burden, and sacrifice to wealth creation, jobs, and competitive advantage.”

Even for a resource-dependent economy like Canada the forecast is rosy: last week the Council of Canadian Academies stated that “the economic growth of Canada would not be negatively impacted… if we started to implement the kind of policies that would help us move to a low-emissions system.”

If the new Liberal government has the will, the tools they need already exist. The Council’s Marc Jaccard concluded, “We already have the commercial technologies to get where we want to go.”  A national price on carbon is the place to start.

Paul Grace-CampbellKaslo, B.C.


Letter to the Editor re: Thanks to emergency responders

The Rocky Mountain Naturalists are grateful to the dedicated emergency responders who showed extra-ordinary kindness, courtesy and professionalism, when we called 911 Sunday afternoon, October 25, 2015, from a ridge overlooking Cranbrook.

One of our club members had just suffered a massive heart attack and we were trying to resuscitate him.  The 911 first aid coach, who walked us through 40 minutes of CPR via cellphone on speaker mode, was so calm and competent in his minute by minute instructions that the group of seniors working on their friend were totally confident in what he was saying and what they were doing.  The RCMP member and the two Search and Rescue volunteers, who arrived to interview all 17 of us witnesses and take responsibility for evacuating our friend’s body, were very respectful, organized and efficient.

A final thanks to the STARS helicopter pilot who gave our friend, Peter, the rope swing ride through the sky that Peter, the wildlife biologist, had so often given his beloved mountain sheep.

Frank HastingsCranbrook, B.C.


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