It continues to be a crucial time for the Class 1 Section of the Zymoetz River.
Pacific Northern Gas may have asked for an extension on the size of natural gas pipeline it would build in Kitimat to the location for one or more liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant projects but that does not mean those projects are being shelved.
AltaGas and Idemitsu Canada are partners in the Douglas Channel LNG project which would use natural gas being pumped through the existing Pacific Northern Gas pipleine.
But they are also partners in a company called Triton who would build a second project and a third project, Cedar, is also under consideration.
Triton and Cedar would require a new 30-inch diameter pipeline called the looping pipeline, twinning the existing PNG 10-inch diameter line from Prince George to about Telkwa.
It would then loop behind Smithers and follow through the upper Class 1 Section of the Zymoetz (Copper) River to a point where it would more or less meet the existing 10-inch PNG pipeline in the mid-Zymoetz River Valley near the confluence with Kitnayakwa Creek, and then on to Kitimat.
This letter is focused on the 30-inch diameter pipeline to be constructed in the Class 1 Section of the Zymoetz River Valley, not the other LNG plant proposals in Kitimat which is part of a larger regional LNG discussion. This new pipeline is an ill conceived, terrible idea and not acceptable.
The upper Zymoetz Valley is beautiful, almost a pristine river valley with much of its original old growth timber still remaining.
Wolves, grizzly and black bears, moose, mountain goats and a myriad of other species of mammals and birds are indigenous to the upper watershed. A population of wild summer run steelhead that are ever so special, coho, chinook and sockeye salmon and other native species spawn and rear in the upper watershed.
There is a “special management zone” along the river to protect the integrity and the natural values of this very unique ecosystem.
Tourism and resident angling are of a very high quality and value.
Some special places in our province should never be threatened by industrial development and this river valley is one of them.
The frustrating part is that there is an alternate route for the pipeline next to the PNG line running through Telkwa, along the Telkwa River and through the Telkwa Pass to the Clore River. The new line could then follow along Trapline Creek, through a connecting pass and down Williams Creek to Kitimat.
The so called problem with this route is the Telkwa Pass where there have been landslides, and that is a worry for Triton. This should not be a concern or an excuse as a protective cover can be designed and built over a new line as they have done with the existing PNG line. This would be less expensive than a longer route behind Smithers where new access roads, some through private holdings, would have to be constructed.
The province and proponent need to rethink what they are doing. Every effort should be made to consolidate as many pipelines as possible into single corridors where the responsibility to carry out impeccable planning and construction would remain imperative in order to diminish the need for reclamation. Respect for natural values must always be the priority.
Virtually every nationally and internationally renowned salmon/steelhead river in the Skeena watershed is facing a pipeline. The province must reflect upon what is being proposed and develop a dialogue with the public and First Nations to find a solution to the nightmare that has taken over the watershed.