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

Friday, June 1, 2007

THE UGLY DETAILS: rally cancellation

The 21st annual Kipawa river Rally is Cancelled due to the punitive actions of PWGSC

The Kipawa River Rally is a great festival and celebration. It is also great community event. It has introduced thousands of people, not only to the river but to the whole Temiscaming region.

PWGSC has made it impossible for Les Amis de la rivière Kipawa (LARK) to host the event this year. To run the festival successfully, LARK needs confidence that water is available on a given rally date. After cooperating for 18 years PWGSC, who owns the dam, stopped cooperating on water releases.

In 2005 PWGSC dumped a bunch of water early and then gave LES AMIS a reduced amount, and then again in 2006 they shut the water off a day early. They've succeeded in
crippling the Kipawa River festival. Les Amis numbers were way down in 2005, their 20th anniversary, because of the uncertainty around the water release (PWGSC
purposefully reduced flows in 2005), because of the uncertainty around running the dam, and because people just don't like the controversy, they just paddled
somewhere else. Now in 2006 Les Amis know their numbers will be down again, which raises the possibility that they will lose money, which they can't afford to do while their court case is on.

The worst kind of arrogant bureaucrats have been brutalizing Les Amis, something only absolute amateurs would do. PWGSC officials responsible must think that
working for the federal government somehow gives them the right to violate the rights of Canadian citizens. And they're hurting Les Amis. In this matter, Les Amis has not been antagonistic. They have spent over two years trying to reach out to PWGSC, trying to engage them in dialog, trying to meet with them, trying to explain their values, trying desperately to demonstrate that they want to work with PWGSC to find a solution. They refused to meet. Then they lied to Les Amis representatives.

The relationship between Les Amis and PW is at an all time low point right now. It is not where Les Amis wanted to be. It is not where Les Amis tried to get to. It is where PW drove it. For example, PWGSC's published ad in a tiny newspaper in Ville Marie, stating that they are eliminating the entire upper section of the river from the rally, as an appropriate way to communicate with LES AMIS, certainly a primary stakeholder.

As an organization Les Amis do not fear challenging government and especially bureaucrats and believe that organizations such as theirs can make a difference. Les Amis believe the Kipawa is one river that is worth fighting for. They believe the history of recreational whitewater navigation at Laniel, that goes back almost 40 years, and the more recent commercial whitewater navigation, with a perfect safety record, are worth protecting and preserving.

In this matter LARK does not want "casual observers". Their affidavits in their Federal Court Case, a judicial review of te environmental screening assessment of the Laniel Dam refurbishment amount to many thousands of words. They want people to contribute to the debate by reading the documents filed with the federal court that
are available on their website then voicing this informed opinion to the media, to their MNA members and to their MP's.

LARK believe that PWGSC and Transport Canada needed to be challenged on their incomprehensibly opaque approach to public consultation. And they've managed to
secure the dedicated and extremely generous services of a very good lawyer, plus the support of two prestigious Ottawa law firms.

Does that mean that LES AMIS are guaranteed to win this case…no,... but if Les Amis did not decide to fight this fight, all Canadians would have lost.

Currently PWGSC continue to reference “safety” as a main concern of theirs. Last year they had a construction supervisor on the site during the 2006 rally, carrying large and cumbersome pieces of fencing, working right next to the water above the drop through the dam, with construction boots and blue jeans on, and no life jacket. Les Amis cannot afford the liability risks that come with the capacity for stupidity that has been exhibited at the construction site.

LARK are concerned about the safety of rally participants. PWGSC talks safety but they can't see to the safety of their own people. During the 2006 rally, the project manager on the construction site worked without a hard hat. Someone, likely a PWGSC employee or construction contractor led a group of young children wearing beach sandals across the entire construction site, right up to the edge of the river. The security people on the site made no effort to stop them.

-PWGSC is currently proposing using the backs of pickup trucks to carry paddlers and their gear 3km down a provincial highway, to a park which has no camping, no parking, with limited access and egress.

-LARK are concerned that the future of the rally has been crippled by the actions of PWGSC

- LARK are concerned that PWGSC continues to engage in aggressive, punitive behavior against the festival.

- LARK are concerned that PWGSC are simply looking for an excuse to pull the plug on the rally forever.

Doug Skeggs: Les Amis Director of River Preservation...

For the first time in 21 years, there will not be a recreational white water festival on the Kipawa River this year.

Just to give you a bit of background on this:

- the Les Amis executive have been agonizing over this decision for a couple of weeks

- desperate last-minute efforts were made to engage the Laniel Dam owner, Public Works and Government Services Canada, in discussions that would give us some confidence that we could run the Rally as a feel-good event for recreational paddlers

- in the end the executive decided that it is not possible to run a successful, safe event this year

- it took Public Works and Government Service Canada over a week to decide if they even wanted to talk to us

- federal public servants at PWGSC rather than working cooperatively and for the benefit of the paddling public to promote one of the oldest whitewater festivals in North America, is working against the interests of our festival

- PWGSC published an ad in Teminscaming newspapers May 16 stating that they were going to deny access the entire upper section of the river from Laniel to the highway park during the rally (denying paddlers access to the chute through the dam, Rock and Roll and Tumbling Dice rapids)

- the PWGSC ad also stated that our new put-in at the highway park would only be open from 8 am to 6 pm

- PWGSC has since backed off that public statement

- in 2005, PWGSC released a large volume of water one week prior to the festival and then provided a reduced flow for the rally

- leading up to the 2006 festival, with a Judicial Review application underway, legal counsel for PWGSC informed us that historic practices would be respected and that no special steps would be taken to interfere with our festival

- the 2006 reality was that PWGSC erected a snow fence across the river to deny the navigation rights of rally participants

- During the 2006 festival PWGSC shut off the flow one day early, eliminating a paddling day for some participants and causing the cancellation of a commercial rafting trip

- there was serious confrontation during the 2006 rally, as a direct result of PWGSC's complete refusal to consult with us, police were called in by PWGSC, clearly in an attempt to intimidate us...this is not the way you treat a group of volunteers who are trying to run a community festival

- this year, Les Amis has no confidence that PWGSC is prepared to support this community festival and provide an adequate water release over the duration of the event

- the ingredients for confrontation are there this year, as they were last year...we simply refuse to fulfill PWGSC's desire for that confrontation

- we have launched our judicial review of the actions of PWGSC with the Federal Court, and we respectfully await our day in court (NOW SCHEDULED for October 23-24)

- when the dust settles, whatever the outcome of our court case, we sincerely hope and will work very hard to ensure that the Kipawa River Rally will return to its past glory

- the spirit and intent of the Kipawa River Rally is to promote whitewater paddling on a pristine and very special Canadian river, to celebrate our paddling heritage, to raise funds to go directly to the protection of the river, and to demonstrate the sustainable whitewater tourism potential of this region of Quebec

- the current and past actions of PWGSC make it impossible for us to achieve these goals in 2007

- this is a tragedy

Its official: LES AMIS have their day in court

October 23 and 24,2007


The rally is cancelled.

Les amis cannnot associate itself with the unsafe, unpredictable
situation created by the punitive actions of PWGSC. PWGSC has escalated
its actions to suppress whitewater recreation on the kipawa. In 2005 it
reduced water flow, in 2006 it fenced off the sluice, now in 2007 it
plans to restrict all access to the top third of the river.

Over the weekend we discovered that their announced shuttle "does not
exist", the portage trail is blocked off, and unfinished, a fenced in
belvedere has been erected at the end of the incomplete trail.

In light of the reduced access to the top third of the river,
the lack of information forthcoming from PWGSC,
the intransigence of their position on safety,
the potential risk to boaters who might attempt to access the river during a rally sponsored by Les Amis or using the hap hazard shuttle system proposed by PWGSC,
the potential for conflict between rally participants and
security/staff of PWGSC and
Les Amis' lack of control over its members and others inspite of any encouragement by Les amis to obey the "authorities" and
in view of the fact that the actions of PWGSC have basically destroyed any chances for a successful "feel good" 21st rally that
the rally is cancelled.

PWGSC is still referencing the Quebec Dam Safety Act, and the CDA guidelines in their phone messaging. Those messages are false and misleading.

You may be aware that I specifically addressed many of those concerns in my paper to the CDA membership last fall in Quebec city and that in any case the CDA guidelines NEVER prohibited navigation at the Laniel Dam. It was the dam itself that was illegal. PWGSC never complied with the Quebec Dam Safety act and is not subject to those provincial regulations - for example it never filed an Impounded water Management plan.

Last year at the rally boaters ran the sluice unsafely not because the sluice was unsafe but because PWGSC erected a snowfence across the sluice. Safety?

The decision PWGSC is taking is completely arbitary in our view and now with the proposal at hand to put recreational boaters... people into pickup trucks with their gear on a provincial highway while at the same time using safety as the rationale I am left totally flabberghasted.

We now find it impossible to run the 2007 rally at this point. PWGSC have not guaranteed us a water release, PWGSC want our participants in pickup trucks or negotiating what appears to be an unfinished pathway. PWGSC want to shuttle people to a park 3km away and deny them access to the top third of the river, making no provisions for camping.

People now can draw their own conclusions and just how uncooperative PWGSC has been.

Jeff Charlebois

Asset Manager, Bridges & Dams / Gestionnaire des biens, ponts et barrages
NCA Operational Support Services / Services de soutien aux opérations, RCN
Real Property Branch / Direction générale des biens immobiliers

- 265 City Centre Ave., Ottawa, On, K1R 7R7
( Tel: (613) 998-8619 2 Fax: (613) 998-7869

Monday, May 28, 2007

Current Events at the Kipawa

Fear Uncertainty and Doubt surround the 21st Annual Kipawa River Rally

Personally I feel it much safer to have boaters and rafters simply running the sluice as is customary and avoiding the logistics of moving people on pickup trucks without seatbelts and so on. It is also safer than having them negotiate tight trails and steep steps.

We're inquiring of the Quebec Provincial police about the legality of moving people on pickup trucks 3km ona provincial highway as announced by PWGSC.


Jim Coffey, owner and operator of Esprit Rafting in Point Davidson looks for answers on a recent site visit to Laniel Quebec where the annual Kipawa River Rally has been stimied by the actions of Public Works Goods and Services Canada.

The refurbishment of the Laniel water control dam has spelled disaster for the vintage whitewater festival and the booming commercial rafting that has evolved with it. The members of Les amis de la rivière kipawa have taken the government to court in a judicial review of the refurbishment claiming reasonable accommodation of whitewater paddling was not only possible but feasible.

Currently, access to the top third of the river has been eliminated.

Read on for details

The trail now ends in a lookout of questionable value: The public often gathered to see the rafts and kayaks run the sluice. From this lookout, they can see nothing.

What are we to think? The current bypass trail is under construction and blocked off leaving fear, uncertainty, and doubts as to access to the Kipawa.

PWGSC Denies Access to the top one third of the Kipawa River!!

PWGSC all but destroys any chance for a successful 21st Kipawa River Rally

This is a recent advertisement from the Canada Gazette by PWGSC regarding access to the Kipawa River


For shuttle information in
English press 1, 3 and then 2

Reference to QDSA and CDA guidelines flies in the face of the facts.

The construction on the new gates appears started but stalled. Security is on site. The fencing that blocked the sluice during the 2006 rally has been removed.

Both gates are open on the old dam but the current low flow makes them unnavigable at this time. The lake appears to be full of water but this is a dry year.

This is a sad day: for all of this could have been prevented with a bit of foresight, planning, an understanding of the value of whitewater recreation. Instead we see narrow minded, obstinate, parochial, mules.

For those of you that are too young or too new at the sport to remember :here is a brief description of the Kipawa River Rally.

The day would start leisurely looking at the cascading river, the towering white pines, the beautiful lake temiskaming, the wondrous log buildings. You've just had a reunion with friends the past evening, possibly a sauna and dip into the lake, possibly in the buff.

After breakfast the shuttle takes you to the municipal parking lot at Laniel, you get into your gear, shove off from the beach, cross the floating wooden warning buoys and slide down the 10 meter sluice into the "wake me up" wave.

This is just the start of a glorious day on the river.

Sometimes you might get out of your boat and rerun the sluice many times or try to surf that wave, but either way.. you feel good.

Over the next three hours you paddle and surf

Rock and Roll
Tumbling Dice
Button Hook
Huey Duey and Luey
Log Jam
Broken Bridge ( home of the infamous Vivre La Kipawa Libre)
Island Rapid
Upper and Lower Whitepine
Picnic ( now being surfed.... for fun)

You walk around the waterfall stopping to see Grand Chute and enjoy the scent of pines and cedar

Elbow gets you heart pounding, you know Hollywood is coming up
and then the spectacular ride down a solid class IV rapid into Lake Temiskaming's Calm waters, and hopefully there is a cold beer waiting for you.

Folks, what can compare to a paddling experience like that?

Public Meeting in Ville Marie, P.Q. Draws crowd of curious locals

Here Christian Belisle, president of Les Amis, indicates how the proposed Opemican national Park accommodates the Tabaret River Diversion with a notch leading to Lake Temiskaming from Lake Kipawa.

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