Nelson city council are joining local scientists and land management professionals in voicing concern for the relocation of BC Hydro’s Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program.
Councillor Donna Macdonald put a motion forward at last week’s special council meeting that council send a letter to BC Hydro showing their opposition to the recent closure of the program.
“I’ve had some dealings with the compensation program over the last number of years and was really disappointed and alarmed to hear that it was going to be closed,” said Macdonald, whose partner Greg Utzig is one of the signatories on the letter. “I came across this letter and decided that council should speak out on it.”
For Macdonald, having a base of local knowledge in the Columbia River Basin is important for effectively completing projects.
“Certainly the people who have been working with the program have acquired a lot of local knowledge and expertise,” she said. “Having that with the office that is co-ordinating the work in the Basin is absolutely critical that you’ve got people that understand what the situation is running the show instead of a contract administrator for BC Hydro in Burnaby running the show.”
Even though BC Hydro has said the reasons for the relocation are not related to cost cutting, Macdonald doubts that finances are unrelated.
“To me it’s just stupid really,” she said. “You’re going to reduce the number of full time jobs and then go around and give contracts to people and somehow believe that this makes sense. One might guess that this is just an ideological position to take where they say ‘We’re reducing jobs, hurray,’ but if they aren’t saving any money because they aren’t doing it any more efficiently or effectively then what’s the point?”
The letter from council was also sent to the Association of Kootenay Boundary Local Governments and the executive of the association will also be sending their own letter to BC Hydro.
Council also discussed sending the letter to the Minister of Energy and Mines, Rich Coleman, and Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation, Pat Bell.