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Hydroelectric power station on the Mistassini River: the project does not meet the requirements of sustainable development and information on its management must be made public

11e Chute de la rivière Mistassini

PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
  

Montreal, July 16, 2015 – The hydroelectric power station project on the 11e fall of the Mistassini River does not respect the principles of the Sustainable Development Act and the Lac-Saint-Jean Community Energy Corporation (SECLSJ) camouflages its management by not respecting the Access to Water Act. information. The report from the Office of Public Hearings on the Environment (BAPE), whose report was made public on July 10, questions several elements of the project.

Let us recall here the conclusions reached by the Fondation Rivières in its brief submitted last February. Several considerations therefore allowed us to recommend to the BAPE the rejection of this project.

In its report, the BAPE commission of inquiry does not comment on the justification of the project. It simply relies on the government ideology of subsidizing regional development through the purchase of electricity from loss-making projects, an old way of doing things put in place by the Charest government in 2006, and which the Couillard government is resuming under his wing, this time in the Prime Minister's county. This same ideology has just caused the loss of hundreds of jobs for construction workers who have just completed the ransacking of the historic site of Val-Jalbert, from our point of view.

The Commission of Inquiry also notes that the management rules, the project selection criteria as well as the accountability and monitoring mechanisms are however variable and poorly defined, and are therefore considered insufficient. She adds that transparent and public accountability and monitoring mechanisms regarding the use of funds and the expected and achieved repercussions should be put in place. The Fondation Rivières fully subscribes to this observation and even adds that in the case of the SECLSJ, the rules are so flouted that all information is confidential, including the awarding of lucrative contracts without calls for tender, the systematic refusal of information , and suspicious hiring of staff, secret management, etc.

The Commission adds that the program should be the subject of an evaluation in order to demonstrate that it achieves its regional development objectives, while emphasizing that the purchase of this electricity has a direct impact on the prices assumed by the whole Quebec consumers, to which the Foundation also subscribes.

The Commission also notes that the studies are incomplete concerning a potential spawning ground located at the entrance to the intake canal, that a study of the effect on water temperature should be carried out, that mortality monitoring fish should be planned as well as compensation measures to compensate for possible habitat losses.

In terms of recreational and tourism impacts, the information submitted is insufficient to enable us to assess with certainty the impact of using the aesthetic flow rate of 13.25 m³/s. Questions also arise regarding the risk of ice jams, the expectations of canoeists and kayakers, and the connection line should have been an integral part of the project analysis. Finally, based on the principles of the Sustainable Development Act “participation and commitment” and “access to knowledge”, the Commission of Inquiry emphasizes that the promoter should set up a monitoring committee representative of the community, should the project be carried out. project.

The Fondation Rivières therefore calls on the government not to authorize this costly project whose management is secret.

Complaints were submitted to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Land Occupancy concerning the contracts carried out without a call for tenders and to the Order of Engineers concerning the role and hiring of SECLSJ employees.

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Source : 

Catherine Huard
Executive Director
514 241-3031

Photo : 11th Falls of the Mistassini River by Pierre Leclerc

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