No federal review for Glacier/Howser project

The controversial Glacier/Howser independent power project will no longer require a federal environmental assessment.

The Glacier/Howser project won't have to undergo a federal review

The Glacier/Howser project won't have to undergo a federal review

The controversial Glacier/Howser independent power project is among nearly 500 projects in BC that will no longer require a federal environmental assessment as part of legislative changes.

The Bill C-38 omnibus budget bill passed this year made drastic changes to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, replacing it with a new version — a move widely criticized by environmental watchdogs.

They view the provincial assessment process as weaker and less stringent than the federal review.

In a statement, Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency spokeswoman Isabelle Perrault said the “vast majority” of the projects dropped from the federal review “were expected to have little or no adverse effects on the environment.”

“It is important to note that these projects will still be subject to relevant federal and provincial laws, regulations, and standards,” she said. “Many of these regulations and requirements were not in place when the Act was originally developed.”

The Glacier/Howser proposal calls for a 125 MW hydroelectric facility north of Kaslo.

Last year, two Regional District of Central Kootenay directors called for the whole environmental review process to be cancelled, calling it a “colossal waste” of taxpayer money.

The West Kootenay EcoSociety has called the project “effectively dead” following changes to the definition of self-sufficiency in the BC Energy Act, allowing BC Hydro to purchase power only when it is needed.

— With files from Aaron Orlando, Revelstoke Times Review