Working Hard to Safeguard Paddling Assets for All Canadians

All about Whitewater

All about Whitewater
A Blog about River Preservation and the need to protect our free flowing whitewater resources

Thursday, June 7, 2007

KIPAWA LEGAL: Frequently Asked Questions

When is the case being heard at Federal Court?

All the affidavits and undertakings for documents are complete. The court date is set for October 23/2007 and the proceedings should last about a day and a half.

Question -

With respect to navigability - What is the argument of Transport Canada? that there's no denying that the river should be "navigable" but to them, providing a portage trail around the dam for kayakers constitutes "navigability?"
Are they interpreting the 'law' around navigability to suit the needs of this project??

Second Question -

What can we (paddlers, public, concerned citizens, etc) do to help, aside from donating to the enormous legal bills associated with this battle?

Is letter-writing still a possibility? What content might need to be highlighted to the Ministers at PWGSC and TC that will have them pay attention, and not just discard the letters, with the excuse that "this is already before the courts?"

As for content - here's what I'm thinking is important... are there other key points that need to be included in a brief letter to MP's/Ministers, etc?

1. TC/PWGSC officials have acted in a manner not appropriate for "public servants"
o The public consultation of the damn construction, was not open to LARK (or at least not immediately)
o The PWGSC officials kept information from LARK throughout the past couple years that would have been helpful for LARK to know.

2. PWGSC/TC officials have based this project's direction (wrt Dam re-design) on innaccurate information.
o Claiming the dam is dangerous to navigate
o Claiming it's illegal to run the dam (when in fact the dam itself is illegal/without permit!)
o Claiming that by not having the dam, there would be minimal impact to the festival/paddling/adventure tourism in the area,
o Claiming that their mitigations for the sluice are adequate, yet they never really asked Les Amis if that was the case...

3. PWGSC carried out the Environemental Assessment in such a manner that would not impact the (already awarded) contract to construct the dam, and in doing so, avoided the involvement of Les Amis, even though it was recognized that they were a valid stakeholder, their input was disregarded.

My intent of the letter/s would be to highlight my utter disgust at how "Public Servants" are doing very little for members of the public, and that their insolence is actually costing private citizens great personal expense by launching this legal battle - whereas if they had been willing to listen all of this may have been avoided.

Not to mention the Conservative Government's cutting of the legal defence funds for small organizations for this very purpose!

Third Question

What's the best outcome of this?
--Dam is re-engineered to permit navigability?
--PWGSC officials are reprimanded/disciplined for their lack of professionalism?
--The law is altered/clarified in the area around navigable rights?

The answers to your questions

The answers can been summed up by our original requests to the Minister of Transport.

Keep the sluice of the refurbished dam navigable. That is it in a nutshell.

We demanded a complete win: reasonable accommodation of navigation which did not include the trail. We never asked for it, we didnt' argue against it.

Now to the more interesting question of reasonable accommodation...

Les Amis has demonstrated that reasonable accommodation consisted of such things as the design of the gates of the new sluice. We suggested they contact and use the services of reputable engineers who specialize in the design of whitewater facilities: Penrith, Athens, Barcelona, Munich: people like Scott Shipley who we specifically referenced.

Reasonable accommodation was both feasible and possible. Many of the design features were listed in my paper to the Canadian Dam Association: "Navigation of Water Control Structures".

Now lets look at environmental impacts on people. This is not the first or last time we look at the impacts on people as an environmental effect. On route to Arnprior from Ottawa you will see a long concrete sound barrier protecting residents from the noise of Highway 17. This is a small example of how environmental effects can be mitigated. Using the logic of PWGSC the residents would have been asked to "move" if they didn't like the noise.

Everyone has learned something from this exercise. I wish enlightenment for all in the most positive sense. I suggest "truth and reconciliation". Some of the bureaucrats have no doubt already paid a high price for their bad decisions but everybody makes mistakes. In my paper to the CHRS this weekend I speak about the experience of les amis in the environmental assessment screenings: what happened verus what was supposed to happen and make the case that unless the process for screenings changes more bad decisions will ensue.

This last point addresses your question about letter writing. The Main stream media has paid little attention to the issues here. More media time has addressed the shape of hockey pucks. If people wish to help they can draw attention to our cause. Talk to their friends and encourage them to do the same. The environment is IN and with awareness comes the singular moment in time, when the force and presence of an idea can acelerate forward. Nothing can stop an idea whose time has come.

Finally, I 'd like to address the concept of the "precautionary principle".
This is the belief that even a small change can be catalytical to major change. We have to be careful what we do and if we are not sure of the consequences of our actions, err on the side of caution. PWGSC did not do this, they sat around in a little group, said "a trail - I love it when an idea comes together". They were wrong then and they are still wrong

No comments:

Canadian Rivers

Canadian Rivers
I speak for river users too!

The Queen is not amused!

The Queen is not amused!

The Damned Dam - 2005 -

The Damned Dam - 2005 -
22nd Annual Kipaw Rally has modest turnout. - 23rd does better

The Ashlu river: it could happen to you

The Ashlu river: it could happen to you

Whitewater Ontario

Whitewater Ontario
Working Hard to Protect Canada's Paddling Resources

Whitewater Ontario - Mission Statement

It is Whitewater Ontario’s mission to support the whitewater paddling community through the promotion, development and growth of the sport in its various disciplines. We accomplish this through the development of events, resources, clubs, and programs for personal and athletic development, regardless of skill level or focus, to ensure a high standard of safety and competency; We advocate safe and environmentally responsible access and use of Ontario’s rivers. Whitewater Ontario is the sport governing body in the province, and represents provincial interests within the national body Whitewater Canada and the Canadian Canoe Association

Kipawa, Tabaret, and Opemican

Kipawa, Tabaret, and Opemican
If Hydro Quebec is not actively pursuing Tabaret what is that bite out of Opemican for?

Kipawa Dam: After

Kipawa Dam: After
Laniel Dam at 2006 Rally

Where is the Kipawa

Where is the Kipawa
Kipawa flows into lake Temiskamingue, running from Kipawa Lake, under hwy 101 in Quebec

Kipawa Dam

Kipawa Dam
laniel dam at 2004 River Rally

Tabaret is a Bad Idea

About the Kipawa

The best thing paddlers can do to help the cause of the Kipawa:

1. attend the rally and bring others including non paddlers to attend and buy beer and have fun

2. write your MP /MNA and raise the issue and post your objections -1 letter = 200 who didn't write

3. Write Thierry Vandal the CEO of Hydro Quebec strongly opposing the 132 MW standard decrying the use of "diversion" as the most environmentally inappropriate method of power production

4. Write Jean Charest, Premier of Quebec protesting that either the algonquin or the tabaret project will eliminate all other values on the Kipawa River by turning it into a dry gulch.

5. See if you can get other allied groups interested by showing your own interest, ie the Sierra Defense Fund, Earthwild, MEC, and so on.

6. Demand further consultation

7. Currently we are at the point where we need to sway public opinion and raise awareness.

However, if all else fails, don't get mad, simply disrupt, foment, and protest . The Monkey Wrench Gang.

Have you read Edward Abbey?

Important Addresses
CEO,Hydro Québec, 75 boul René Levesque, Montreal, P.Q., H2Z

Tabaret is a Bad Idea (Part Two)

Les Amis de la Riviere Kipawa is poised to use an application to the Federal Court to issue a Writ of Mandamus to ensure the Minster does what he is supposed to do, protect the public's right to navigate the water control structure at Laniel, Quebec using the Navigable Waters Protection Act. (see

In the now gutted Navigable Waters Protection Act lay the means by which the Minister of Transport could keep the public right of passage down our great Canadian Heritage, our rivers and streams which are threatened especially by resource corporations and power brokers such as Hydro Quebec.

These powerful entities continue to petition that 'this' river or 'that' stream is not navigable and therefore not protectable.
I don't say that dams and bridges should not be built, only that if they are, historical navigation rights should be considered and preserved by making reasonable accommodations for recreational boaters.

It is the Minister of Transport, in exercising the right to allow or disallow work on or over a navigable waterway is what keeps boats and recreational boaters plying our waterways.

To many recent cases launched in the Federal Court concerning the Navigable Waters Protection Act, most recently the case of the Humber Environment Group of Cornerbrook Newfoundland versus the Cornerbrook Pulp and Paper Company indicates that the important oversight is not being faithfully performed. Have we really come to the point now where we must say "such and such a stream is one foot deep, possessing so many cubic feet per second flow and so on?" The answer to this is... YES!

The honourable Mr. Justice John A. O'Keefe, ruled that it had not been shown that the river was navigable. How convenient was that to the Minister? But either the Minister of Transport acts to protect our rivers and streams as a public right or he does not and that means rivers and streams currently enjoyed by kayakers and canoists.

Enough of the cheating, and double-talk. Canadians! our rivers and streams are our own, lets urge the Minister of Transport and the our government to protect them.

Peter Karwacki

Tabaret is a Bad Idea (Part Three)

10 Reasons WhyTabaret is a Bad Idea1) Tabaret is too big. The station is designed to useevery drop of water available in the Kipawawatershed, but will run at only 44 percent capacity.We believe the Tabaret station is designed to usewater diverted from the Dumoine River into theKipawa watershed in the future. 2) The Tabaret project will eliminate the aquaticecosystem of the Kipawa River.The Tabaret project plan involves the diversion of a16-km section of the Kipawa River from its naturalstreambed into a new man-made outflow from LakeKipawa. 3) Tabaret will leave a large industrial footprint on thelandscape that will impact existing tourismoperations and eliminate future tourism potential. 4) The Tabaret project is an aggressive single-purposedevelopment, designed to maximize powergeneration at the expense of all other uses. 5) River-diversion, such as the Tabaret project, takinglarge amounts of water out of a river’s naturalstreambed and moving it to another place, is verydestructive to the natural environment. 6) The Kipawa River has been designated a protectedgreenspace in the region with severe limitations ondevelopment. This designation recognizes theecological, historical and natural heritage value ofthe river and the importance of protecting it.Tabaret will eliminate that value. 7) If necessary, there are other, smarter and morereasonable options for producing hydro power onthe Kipawa watershed. It is possible to build a lowimpactgenerating station on the Kipawa river, andmanage it as a “run-of-the-river” station, makinguse of natural flows while maintaining other values,with minimal impact on the environment. 8) The Kipawa watershed is a rich natural resource forthe Temiscaming Region, resonably close to largeurban areas, with huge untapped potential fortourism and recreation development in the future.Tabaret will severely reduce this potential. 9) Tabaret provides zero long-term economic benefitfor the region through employment. The plan is forthe station to be completely automated andremotely operated. 10) The Kipawa River is 12,000 years old. The riverwas here thousands of years before any peoplecame to the region. The Tabaret project will change all that.

Problems on a local River?

  • There is more to do as well but you have to do your research and above all, don't give up.
  • IN the meantime prepared a document itemizing the history of navigation of this spot and its recreational value. Use the Kipawa river history of navigation as a guide: see
  • Under the Ministry of Environment guidelines you have a set period of time to petition the change under the environmental bill of rights, you may have limited time to take this action. But it involves going to court for a judicial review of the decision.
  • 4. contact the ministry of natural resources officials and do the same thing.
  • 3. contact the ministry of the environment and determine if they approved the project
  • 2. determine if the dam was a legal dam, approved under the navigable waters protection act.
  • 1. research the decision and timing of it to determine if an environmental assessment was done.

Minden Ontario

Minden Ontario
Gull River Water control at Horseshoe lake

A History of Navigation on the Kipawa River

Prior to the environmental assessment there was no signage at the Laniel Dam

T-Shirts Area: These are available now!

T-Shirts Area: These are available now!
Send $25 and a stamped self addressed envelop for the Tshirt, and for the bumper sticker, a stamped and self addressed envelope with $5.00 for the bumper sticker to Les Amis de la rivière Kipawa, 80 Ontario St., Ottawa, Ontario, K1K 1K9 or click the link To purchase a Les Amis "T" contact Doug with the following information: Number of shirts:Sizes: Ship to Address: Method of Payment: cash, cheque and paypal, Shipto address:

Bumper Stickers Now Available

Bumper Stickers Now Available
Get your bumper sticker and show your support for the Kipawa Legal Fund ! - send $5.00 in a Stamped, self addressed envelope to: Peter Karwacki Box 39111, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1H 7X0