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, December 11, 2009

Who Speaks for the Kipawa river

In reference to a recent letter by Scott Sorensen published in the Témiscamingue Le Reflet newspaper, as president of Les Amis de la rivière Kipawa I wish to make the following comments.

For the people of Témiscamingue region it seems clear that the proposed Opemican Park is unwanted and most could care less about the Kipawa river. Hydro-Québec has made some grand promises to the MRC of Temiskaming and they have the power to construct their Kipawa River Diversion Project within the proposed Opemican Park in any case. To many this just seems crazy but it is the sad reality.

In the province of Québec, Hydro-Québec seems to be able to do anything it wants to do. The population doesn't see the consequences of diversion of the Kipawa river as negative but something that will bolster the local economy. It seem that the general population believes that any new industry is preferred over the preservation of a prestine natural resource such as the Kipawa River flowing in its natural stream bed.

However, as a river preservation organization, dedicated to the ecological and recreational values of the Kipawa River we do not agree that the annual payments to the MRC are the way to gain the endorsement of the local population. The MRC mayors have made their decision based mostly on the promised cash, a short term view and r less about the future, the environment and other long term possibilties.

Further, the provincial minister who wants (and will ultimately create) the park has no power to stop Hydro-Québec's Tabaret project To Les Amis this all seems a bit too surreal. It's incredible that the Kipawa River, where we have run our Kipawa River Rally for the last 24 years may soon become a dry gulch.

Some of the local municipalities want the Tabaret project to proceed, and others prefer the private proposed Gordon (Innergex project). It certainly seems that there are no mayors who chose neither hydro project. Lets be clear however, just because the majority is chosing an option, this does not mean that the best alternative for Temiskaming includes diversion of the Kipawa River or the construction of a powerstation in the midsts of a proposed provincial Park, Opemican.

Recently the Laniel water control Dam was refurbished and modified to prevent the public from using the sluice of the dam as a recreational resource. Les Amis petitioned the government all the way to the Supreme Court to maintain this right of navigability but ultimately lost. But who really loses in a case like this? Ultimately it is the people of Temiskaming who have lost.

Les Amis believes in the collective power of the people, firmly grasping the facts of the situation and with a clear head to the future. It is not the 'fault ' of the Kipawa River that is does not lie close to a major center like Toronto, Montreal or Ottawa. It is not close enough that people would be easily familiar with its virtues. It is a remote place and that is both its strength and its weakness.


The sky is vast, my blood runs cold, so who will speak for me?
with skin like rock my soul is old, and ancient as the sea
From whence I came the age knows not and source is lost in time
And where I go no end is clear except as ocean's brine
Memories lost pour ever more a wish - a breath exspired
Clock ticks rumbling with the stones within my depths inspired
Measured for a concrete suit and kilojoules of light
overlooked by countless those who'd rather see than fight
Sold for wages and of sin by disembodied drones
Nameless those triumphant boffs of steel and glass -atone!
Could ride my back, explore my ways consume what I have sown
But take not blood away from me from which their life has grown

Let me assure you , we will continue to lobby on behalf of the river since nobody else seems to want to do this. Our position is that no water should be diverted from the Kipawa River - period. We would consider run of the river projects on the river itself or the use of the Laniel dam as a generating point. True, there is loss of electrical potential at this point but the trade off is water flowing within the river itself, now and for perpetuity. We also encourage the further development of the Kipawa River Trail and its extension along Lake Temiskaming. We feel that the public will see this as the right decision in future, and an opportutnity lost should the MRC leaders opt for cold hard cash in exchange for the natural wonder that is the Kipawa River.

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