Province says no to power line in Pinecone Burke

A day after more than 1,000 people gathered in a Pitt Meadows school gym to voice their disapproval, B.C. environment minister Barry Penner rejected a controversial proposal to build a power line through Pinecone Burke Provincial Park.

Penner, who did not attend the meeting, concluded that the proposal did not satisfy the requirements of the province’s park-boundary-adjustment policy, and didn’t have enough support from the public, First Nations, and local government, according to a March 26 Ministry of Environment news release.

Run of River Power Inc. had applied to remove 70 hectares from the park to connect its proposed water-power project in the upper Pitt River valley to the power grid at Squamish. If the park change had been approved, environmentalists said it would have set a dangerous precedent and could have led to more private power projects seeking to take away parkland.

“We’re talking here about the very soul of the province that we love,” Rafe Mair, political commentator and former B.C. environment minister, told the March 25 open house on the proposal. “We must fight and continue to fight until we’ve beaten these bastards and preserved super, natural British Columbia forever.”

Mair was one of a series of prominent speakers, including NDP leader Carole James and NDP environment critic Shane Simpson, whose words fired up the crowd that had assembled to hear presentations by and ask questions of project developer Run of River Power Inc., the provincial Environmental Assessment Office, and B.C. Parks.

A Run of River representative told the hostile audience that the project would be ecofriendly and would provide electricity to more than 55,000 homes. The open house was scheduled only after a previous Pitt Meadows meeting was shut down early when too many people showed up.

The company will need to propose a different power-line route if it is to go ahead with the proposed project.

See also, Wilderness Committee’s Joe Foy hails Pinecone Burke victory.