LETTER: Grohman Narrows project would cause problems

Vern Hellekson says the cons far outweigh the pros of deepening a Kootenay River bottleneck.

Critics of a proposal to deepen Grohman Narrows worry it would have an adverse effect on boat launching

It is my understanding that in 2012, all the gates at Corra Linn Dam and the Kootenay Canal were open to their maximum capacity, and still there was flooding in the basements on the West Arm of Kootenay Lake; so why would BC Hydro spend close to $100 million on dredging Grohman Narrows when the downstream dam cannot handle any more in high water? It is simple; they want more flow in low water to generate more power to feed their export needs; it is not to control high water. This will have an adverse effect all the way up to Queens Bay on the main lake.

At recent meetings with BC Hydro, they have already stated that the West Arm will be lower in low water depending, of course, on the amount excavated (not yet stated by BC Hydro). The resulting faster current and lower water will have an adverse effect on boat launching, waterfront properties, public beaches, marina businesses, the Harrop ferry, and fish habitat. The biggest problem will be lower levels at the outlet at Procter, creating a navigation problem in the channel for the main lake ferries. This would lead to being forced to move the terminal from Balfour to a new site at Queens Bay.

The cost of building a new terminal site and the loss of business in Balfour will be over $100 million. Transport Canada has indicated that the MV Balfour is near the end of its service life so instead of taxpayers paying $200 million for dredging Grohman and for a new terminal site on the main lake, $35 million instead could be spent on a new ferry.

Who is BC Hydro trying to fool? It seems evident the dredging will not be to facilitate backing up low water; they want all the flow they can squeeze out of the West Arm for generational power. One only has to look at the Arrow Lake behind the Keenleyside Dam in the spring. We certainly do not want the West Arm to look like that.

As I said in a previous letter, all we have left here is tourism, recreation, and the beautiful West Arm of Kootenay Lake; and once it is changed, it is changed forever.

Capt. Vern Hellekson, Nelson