South Okanagan-Similkameen growers are Canada’s leaders in the advancement of organic principles and in recognition of the values of land conservancy. The Similkameen Valley has the highest concentration (40%) of organic farms in Canada. Approximately 15% of farmland in the Similkameen Valley is in a nature conservancy.
This idyllic region is at risk.
The Public Utility District No. 1 of Okanogan County, Washington is permitted to examine feasibility of the proposed Shanker’s Bend Hydroelectric Project located on the Similkameen River, north-west of Oroville, WA. A portion of the reservoir would be located in British Columbia.
It is estimated that the flooded area could cover more than 9,000 acres in British Columbia. This area would impact two Indian Lands southeast of Keremeos, at least two provincial protected areas, at least 20 provincially declared blue- and red-listed species, a potential national grasslands park, and valuable agricultural land. The Similkameen Valley is home to high value and high quality fruit and grape growing.
Lee McFadyen is owner/operator of Mariposa Organic Farm in Cawston BC, near Keremeos. She says:
We who are affected by the proposal understand all too well that a lake will not be created but instead, a mudflat for tourists to enjoy during the late summer, fall and winter months.
Alex Atamanenko, the NDP Member of Parliament for the area has brought the proposal up in the house on several occasions. The Feds are not responding. The Provincial Government did apply for Intervenor Status after much pushing. We really need to push Mr Penner to apply again when the next window of opportunity opens.
This proposal does nothing for those who live in Similkameen communities this side of the border. We do not benefit from the electricity, from water storage or from construction activity. We just get the mosquitoes and mud flats.
However, the bigger issues are destruction of critical habitat, loss of prime farm land, displacement of the people living in the area and the destruction of a really beautiful bit of the planet.
Just one more little step toward ecological disaster. How is British Columbia going to argue against American power producers destroying habitat when we are doing that on major river systems throughout our province. Additionally, B.C. salmon farming is blamed by Washington State for a large share of the disappearing salmon fishery.
You can’t argue that your neighbors should cleanup their yard while you are desecrating your own.