25 November 2016

Solar Arrays in the East Kootenay - Basic Info



Since the building of the Sun Mine on brown lands left by the Sullivan Mine in Kimberley, the East Kootenay has drawn the attention of international Solar developers.

A total of 10 applications for use of crown land have been received so far in the East Kootenay by the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations
·    Seven have been 'offered' to the proponent,
·    one 'accepted' and
·    three more are being considered

The Regional District (RDEK) has given their support to all applications coming across their desk, with a minority of the board opposing.

Crown lands requested are around Skookumchuck, Galloway, Wycliffe, Ta Ta Creek, Mayook, Elkford.

The companies requesting crown land usage are Node Engineering, Company 0887581 BC Ltd., Innergex, and Sea Breeze Holdings.

The only district in BC where solar arrays are planned is the East Kootenay.

The projects are on

·    essential ungulate winter range
·    native grasslands and valley bottom lands – very rare habitats
·    where many rare wildlife and plant species occur such as on the Important Bird / Biodiversity Area at Skookumchuck
·    rangeland for cattle
·    enhanced / restored areas

By one estimate, 1.2 million has already been spent on these lands for enhancement and restoration through the Ecosystem Restoration program.

The main problems

These solar arrays would alienate the land from all wildlife and human user groups, some would impact Species-at-Risk.  There are many other impacts both positive and negative, of course.

The Provincial government does not appear to have any guidelines in place for placement of solar arrays.

Tell the governments what you think

I, personally, am opposed to solar arrays on these lands, so am focusing on the negative impacts and redirecting ‘greening’ efforts (to areas and methods more beneficial to all).

You may want to say:

·    these lands are more valuable ecologically and economically purposed and managed as they currently are, as functioning ecosystems
·    conversion from their current use to single-use solar power generation is not necessary nor desirable
·    I ask the governments to develop, implement, and enforce a policy specifically for developing solar power generation in the Province of British Columbia
·    I ask the provincial government to declare a moratorium on utility grade solar power facilities until policies are in place
·    Priority should be given to the decentralization of solar power generation – such as on rooftops, which would give direct benefit to more people
·    The first tracts of land converted to solar arrays should be those which have already been depleted by industry and/or areas with little life-sustaining potential

Submit your comments, concerns, thoughts – to

1.       Locally to the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations

b.       online for each application at
·    This link takes you to all the solar applications currently being processed.
  ·    Go through each application to get to the online form for commenting.   Online comments are limited to 4000 characters and they have a deadline.

c.       via email or mail to one of the following:
     ·    Land Officer, Christine Lohr at Christine.Lohr@gov.bc.ca
845 Columbia Ave
Castlegar, BC V1N 1H3

     ·    Director of Authorizations, Ray Morello at Ray.Morello@gov.bc.ca
1902 Theatre Road
Cranbrook, BC V1C 7G1

2.       Your elected representative (emails provided, Google for other contact info): 

a.       MLAs
·    Norm Macdonald, Columbia River-Revelstoke, norm.macdonald.MLA@leg.bc.ca
·    Hon. Bill Bennett, Kootenay East, bill.bennett.MLA@leg.bc.ca
·    Hon. Steve Thomson, Minister FLNRO, steve.thomson.MLA2leg.bc.ca
·    Hon. Donna Barnett, Minister of State for Rural Economic Development, donna.barnett.MLA@leg.bc.ca

b.       Regional District of East Kootenay
·    15 members, contact via http://www.rdek.bc.ca/about/board_of_directors/

The companies and the Land Office insist these applications are ‘for investigative purposes only’.  But, these are large tracts of valley bottom land.  They are ‘staking their claims’.  Monitoring equipment to see how sunny it really is, could be placed on any existing infrastructure in the vicinity.

For more information and updates, keep checking for new posts.  Thank you for your time and consideration.

1 comment:

  1. Corrections:
    - 10 applications were received
    - one was withdrawn after it was pointed out that it was on private land
    - seven were offered, at least two have been accepted
    - two are still under consideration

    The Regional District supported the first seven, the ones offered but the board was split on the final two after receiving many letters.

    The next RDEK Planning Committee meeting, March 3, 2017 will hear presenters from the Sun Mine and MFLNRO.