Regulators have given BC Hydro the green light to build a new boat launch at Halfway River along the future Site C reservoir, and with it, a requirement to fund a new conservation officer for the region.
As part of the $16-billion hydroelectric project, BC Hydro is required to build and replace three boat launch and day use sites that will be flooded by the dam’s reservoir, including the existing launch where the Halfway meets the Peace River.
It had initially planned for one of those downstream at Cache Creek, but changed course last year saying the location was not viable for geotechnical, environmental, and other archaeological and property issues.
In its application to B.C.’s Environmental Assessment Office, BC Hydro said a new site at the Halfway was preferred because of its proximity to the existing launch, already well-used by many river users, and that it had "good access from Highway 29, low impacts to vegetation, and overall lower construction and operating costs."
The EAO gave the Crown corp approval on the change of plans last Friday, May 6, along with amendments to Site C's environmental certificate. And as part of the approval, BC Hydro must now also fund a new conservation officer position for five years to patrol the Site C area.
The company already committed to doing so during consultations last year in order to address concerns from Halfway River First Nation about a potential increase in hunting in its recently designated Tsaa Nuna Conservancy.
The Peace Country River Rats recreation club also threw its support behind a new launch being constructed at the Halfway, saying “the possibility of people making their own trail down to the river to gain the access that they are used to having causing erosion and potential disaster for garbage and debris is a very real concern.”
BC Hydro had explored other alternatives to Cache Creek at Watson Spring and Silver Spring, but ruled those out over safety concerns due to steep access and potential issues with debris accumulation.
Twp other new, replacement boat launch and rec sites are planned at Lynx Creek and Hudson’s Hope, and all three sites are expected to be complete with with parking, picnic areas, and toilets.
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