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 22, 2007

Heritage River Designation and River Preservation

I recently attended the 7th biannual Heritage Rivers Conference in Winnipeg, Manitoba where I was a speaker on the topic: Putting Teeth in CEAA Environmental Assessment Screenings.

Like many at the conference we were also there to celebrate the designation of the Red River as a Canadian Heritage River. All of the key speakers, including Justin Trudeau, Peter C. Newman, Tom Jackson among the higher lights praised the esthetic values of rivers, the role they play as the life lines of our country and their being part of Canada's living systems.

So when it was announced that the contents of Devil's Lake was being discharged in to the headwater of the Red, south of the Canada/US border it was obvious to all that heritage designation does little to protect our rivers In the case of our very own Ottawa River, the nomination process can lead otherwise productive people to follow their tails.

Rather, it is the growing, some say organically growing Non Governmental Organizations that offer the best and greatest hope for rivers and the environment. NGO fanatics and diplomats alike can say and do things that would cause most tenured government bureaucrats to ashen for fear of their pensions.

Having said that, Les amis de la Rivière Kipawa, the group which I represented in Winnipeg recently issued a press release and organized a conference on Parliament Hill in the Charle Lynch Memorial Conference Room. The conference was attended by nobody. To the earnest environmentalist the heart falls on such indifference. While NGO's have a role to play, it is a thankless task, frought with doubts, internal strife and setbacks, competition with golf balls and hockey pucks perhaps leading to obscurity. God bless Canada.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


**********Have a Nice Day**********


The views expressed here are my own. In expressing these views, I am not speaking for Les Amis de la rivière Kipawa or Whitewater Ontario. The executive of these organizations have not vetted these comments and may disagree with the positions I take on issues, or the manner in which I choose to state them.

I realize that I am my own worst enemy at times. On the one hand I promote someone like Elizabeth May who is an unfailingly dedicated environmentalist and unfailingly polite. Someone who does not personally attack or villify people ever. She has accomplished great things in terms of environmental protection which is a legacy and will benefit future generations. Though she has dealt with villains in high places she has done so without ever calling them so and can mingle with everyone from presidents to tree planters. It doesn't matter, she always looks for the good in people and as a result people will always hear her out.

On the other hand I often come off as a self righteous blowhard at best and threatening at worst. Neither is likely to promote attaining the end goal.

It also has the effect of causing the people who should be listening to simply "tune out."

The folks at PWGSC have convinced themselves that what they are doing is in the public interest. I disagree.

Our job is to show that they were wrong, that they started this on the wrong footing and ended with a bad result. That requires an appeal to people's common sense and rationality.

As a rule we won't get there by degenerating the quality of our discussion and attacking people instead of arguments. All that causes people to do is become guarded that the person doing the name calling is not entirely rational.

People have been disappointed in the past by some of my judgment calls. I have been labeled a loose cannon and a liability. While well intentioned my passion overwhelms me and I become righteously indignant.

We are four months away from Les Amis' day in Court. Any future public statements concerning the Kipawa will only contain official text.

Wednesday June 20, 2007

Members of Les Amis including Chief Spokesperson Doug Skeggs, Jim Coffey, Francois Dieboldt and Peter Karwacki attended the Charles Lynch Memorial Conference Room at Parliament Hill to spotlight the actions of PWGSC which have caused the cancellation of the 21st annual and venerable Kipawa River Rally.

This letter was sent to Jeff Charlebois:

I received a copy of your letter to Doug Skeggs dated today asking Les Amis to change its public statement that Public Works and Government Services Canada has caused the cancellation of the 21st annual Kipawa River Rally.

On a personal note I feel it necessary to add that we, now a group representing a broadly based coalition of whitewater enthusiasts, river preservationists, and others concerned with the state of environmental assessments in Canada, neither intend to withdraw nor change our pubic statement. Further we will embellish it as necessary at our press conference tomorrow at the Charles Lynch Memorial Conference Room on Parliament Hill. PWGSC simply cannot proceed unchallenged. The line has been drawn in the sand!

We fully appreciate that our statement may bring PWGSC unfavourable public scrutiny. Please also understand that it is not something Les Amis would have desired. The situation created by PWGSC, is one we have worked tirelessly to avoid over the past 27 months.


Make no mistake, PWGSC’s actions forced Les Amis to cancel its 20-year-old community festival, a festival that has attracted thousands of tourists over the years from as far away as Australia into the Témiscamingue region, a festival that has provided tangible economic benefit to the local businesses. and two commercial rafting companies.

As a non-profit organization, run by volunteers, we are responsible for the safety of the people attending our festival. But the Festival also needs a threshold number of participants in order to be financially viable. When you denied access to the upper third of the River you reduced to the attractiveness of the river to the point where there would be so few participants that Festival would not be economically viable. You left us with no option but to cancel the event.

This is why we Les Amis shall neither retract nor change the public statement we have issued.

PWGSC seems to have taken adopted an adversarial towards Les Amis since 2005, when we, a legitimate user group on the Kipawa, questioned the environmental impacts of the Laniel Dam reconstruction project, specifically those affecting our navigation.

At every opportunity over the past 27 months, we have expressed our willingness to work with PWGSC towards make the Laniel Dam project a suceess for all parties. A new Dam could both preserve historic navigation rights as well as safely control the Kipawa Lake level.The Kipawa has a huge potential as a natural whitewater destination– the spillway design should enhance those qualities.

Every step of the way, PWGSC has disappointed us:

By forcing Les Amis, a non-profit volunteer group, to take legal action to defend our rights under law, rights that PWGSC was fully aware of even as it took aggressive and secret actions against us in an attempt to eliminate those rights without meeting its legal obligation for consultation or proper consideration.
By releasing a large amount of water from Lake Kipawa a week prior our 2005 festival, and then providing a significantly reduced flow for our event,
By undermining our historic, positive relationship with the local municipality
By not consulting with our organization and the paddling community on the design and implementation of measures taken for the stated purpose of mitigating the impact of the dam project on our activity (portage trails and shuttle services).
By demonstrating incompetence in the design of those “mitigations” (i.e a shuttle service that met no one’s needs, a ill-conceived portage trail that caused extreme inconvenience to rally participants at our 2006 event and resulted in a physical injury to one person).
By ignoring suggestions we put forward that might address serious inadequacies in the design and implementation of the above mitigations.
By misleading the public and the paddling community by continuing to state that navigation on the Kipawa River at Laniel is prohibited under the Canadian Dam Association guidelines and the Quebec Dam Safety Act—statements that PWGSC knows to be untrue.
By claiming that PWGSC’s efforts to remove historic navigation rights at Laniel are in the interest of public safety. At the same time PWSGC does not ensure the safety of its employees, its contractors and the public on the Laniel construction site (e.g. PWGSC staff on-site without legally required safety gear, a contractor working right next to the powerful chute through the gates of the Laniel without and life jacket, small children wear beach sandals being led across the entire construction site in full view security personnel.
By communicating with us, not through email, or by phone or in writing, but through a newspaper advertisement in May of this year, an ad that stated PWGSC’s intent to deny access to the entire top section of the Kipawa River during the 2007 festival, without any consultation with us on the impacts of this clearly illegal action.
Mr. Charlebois, we take personal offence in the last bullet above because even as PWGSC was publishing this advertisement, Mr. Skeggs was speaking to you on the phone expressing our desire to meet with you to work out any issues that might stand in the way of a successful 2007 festival.

I hope that PWSCG, perhaps with your help, may find a way to work with Les Amis cooperatively in the future.

Peter Karwacki

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