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Compensation program gets new look in Kootenays

Spawning salmon at Kokanee Creek. - Bob Hall photo
Spawning salmon at Kokanee Creek.
— image credit: Bob Hall photo

BC Hydro has unveiled the new model for its Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program, which takes a more independent and regional approach.

When the cuts to the program were announced last fall, its future seemed uncertain. But the formation of a regionally focused board offers a look into the new model.

Public member for the board representing the West Kootenay, Rick Morley, said the main difference is having the program manager answer to the board instead of BC Hydro.

“Really the focus of our deliberations since they began last spring, was to set up a model that represented the region more clearly,” said Morley. “What we’ve done is change it so the program manager who is in charge of making the whole program work on a daily basis, reports directly to the board rather than to BC Hydro.”

The new 10-person board, in addition to Morley, has two other public members representing the East Kootenay and the northern regions. There are also three positions allocated for the aboriginal communities, two for BC Hydro and two for the provincial government.

According to a press release from BC Hydro, the new model aims to strengthen the program’s regional independence and decision-making, while retaining strong links with the program partners.

BC Hydro invests about $4.5 million into the Columbia region each year.

“BC Hydro is the one who holds the water license for various dams in our region,” said Morley. “As part of that water license they are required to pay for fish and wildlife compensation.”

In an attempt to ensure a wide range of conservation and enhancement programs are delivered to the region, the program plans to use a mix of short and long term-term contracts and contribution agreements.

“For smooth continuity of the program, the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program plans to enter into a long term agreement with the Province of BC, to use a variety of resources, including contractors and staff, to deliver core… projects,” read the press release.

 

Morley said the board hopes to implement the new model in April 2013.

 

 

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