Forest Resources and the Toba Montrose Creek Hydroelectric Project
Two organizations, Friends of Bute Inlet and the Sierra Club of BC, complained to the Forest Practices Board about the impact of a hydroelectric project on forest resources. The “run-of-river” Toba River and Montrose Creek Hydroelectric Project, located about 100 kilometres north of Powell River, is owned by Toba Montrose General Partnership (the proponent). It underwent an environmental assessment, was approved by both the provincial and federal governments in 2007, and began operating in August 2010.
The complainants asked the Board to assess:
- what the immediate, cumulative and long-term environmental impacts associated with the transmission lines and roads might be;
- whether the relevant regulations and policies are fair, are effectively protecting BC’s natural heritage, and are serving the immediate and long-term interests of the public; and
- whether planning and practices, government oversight and public consultation are adequate.
This is the board’s first investigation into a complaint about the impact a run-of-river hydroelectric project might have on forest resources. Understanding how forest resources were managed required consideration of the overall regulatory framework, including regulations and policies that fell outside of the Board’s authority. This “big picture” approach was made possible through the cooperation and support of various government agencies and the project proponent. The resulting report provides a learning opportunity to promote sound forest management for future run-of-river projects.