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Alberta

Hydro-Québec takes partnerships, environmental measures and sharing of wealth to new levels

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The Canadian Energy Compendium is an annual Energy Council of Canada initiative which provides opportunity for cross-sectoral collaboration on a topic of shared interest across the Canadian energy sector, produced with the support of Canada’s national energy associations and Energy Council of Canada’s members. The stories contributed to the 2019 edition, Indigenous Energy Across Canada, highlight current conversations celebrating Canada’s dynamic energy sector and encouraging its continuous improvement.

Thanks to Todayville for helping us bring our members’ stories of collaboration and innovation to the public.

Click to read a Foreward from JP Gladu, Chief Development and Relations Officer, Steel River Group; Former President & CEO, Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business

JP Gladu, Chief Development and Relations Officer, Steel
River Group; Former President & CEO, Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business

THE THIRD PHASE OF JAMES BAY DEVELOPMENT: TAKING PARTNERSHIPS, ENVIRONMENTAL MEASURES AND SHARING OF WEALTH TO NEW LEVELS

This article, submitted by Hydro-Québec, will focus on the development of the third phase of the James Bay complex, namely the generating stations namely the Eastmain-1 and Eastmain-1A/Sarcelle/Rupert project. Emphasis will be placed on the development of a new relationship with the Cree that led to an improved project development model.

The Eastmain Complex, the most recent of the James Bay hydroelectric development: Taking partnerships, environmental measures and sharing of wealth to new levels.

When the initial phases of hydropower development in the Baie-James region of Québec was launched in the 1970s, there was no law on the environment, no environmental ministries and no environmental impact assessment process. So consulting affected communities wasn’t on anyone’s agenda and wasn’t yet part of Hydro-Québec’s approach. In the new millennium, with a new phase of development in this region, close-knit partnerships with the Cree Nation have become the cornerstone of project development throughout Québec.

Nadoshtin and Boumhounan agreements paved the way to new developments in Baie-James in the 2000s

The Nadoshtin agreement (2002) between the Crees and Hydro-Québec opened up the possibility of building and operating the Eastmain-1 hydropower project, while the Boumhounan agreement (2002) provided a framework for the Eastmain 1- A/Sarcelle/Rupert project. The key to success for the Eastmain projects was partially diverting the Rupert River’s flow northward.

But Hydro-Québec’s commercial interest in this new project had to be balanced by clear and extensive measures to preserve the surrounding environment and respect host Cree Nation and Cree communities.

In the framework of the Eastmain-1 project, Hydro-Québec made a number of commitments with a view to

  • reduce the project’s impacts on the environment
  • protect the Cree way of life and encourage partnerships with the Cree communities
  • encourage the awarding of contracts to Cree businesses
  • promote the training and hiring of Cree workers.
  • built local capacity

“…The company wanted to do more than minimize environmental impact; Hydro-Québec wanted community members to see positive gains from the Eastmain developments…”

From the design stage, which was carried out in concert with the Cree, the Eastmain 1-A/Sarcelle/Rupert project incorporated many environmental protection measures, reflecting the Cree traditional knowledge of the community members they consulted. The Cree of Québec were involved in all stages of the project, ensuring they had a voice in how their land would be impacted.

Photo courtesy Hydro-Québec. Yellow sturgeon are raised in a fish hatchery and released into their natural habitat in mid-September, when they have reached a certain maturity. Cree tallymen assist in releasing the fish into the Rupert River in the Baie-James region.

With input from Cree community members, Hydro-Québec devised a combination of dikes and canals to improve water flow, ensuring that the project, which diverts 71% of the river’s flow, flooded only a minimal land area. They also incorporated a substantial ecological in-stream flow and a series of weirs in the river to protect fish habitats, biological diversity, preserve the landscape, and maintain navigation and other activities in the area.

Furthermore, Hydro-Québec signed an unprecedented water management agreement with the Cree to ensure that the modulation of the ecological in-stream flow was managed in a cooperative manner.

Economic spinoffs

In addition to helping preserve the local environment, Hydro-Québec was committed to bringing growth opportunities to the Cree of Québec. The company wanted to do more than minimize environmental impact; Hydro-Québec wanted community members to see positive gains from the Eastmain developments.

Under the Boumhounan Agreement, an extensive participation program built around information and consultation with Cree stakeholders was put in place. It also made funds available for the Cree to finance fisheries, capacity building and traditional activities projects.

When the Eastmain 1A/Rupert diversion project was completed in 2013, the Cree and Hydro-Québec signed the Reappropriation Agreement, giving Cree land users the necessary support to maintain their traditional activities as long as the Rupert River diversion is in operation.

Post-project consultations: ensuring that measures were effective

The COMEX, a joint committee composed of 3 members appointed by the Government Quebec and 2 members appointed by the Cree Nation government, organized consultations with Cree communities to hear their views on the effectiveness of environmental and social mitigation measures put in place for the Eastmain 1A/Rupert diversion project. Approximately 200 members of the Cree Nation from six communities participated in the consultations organized in November 2012.

Photo courtesy Hydro-Québec. Between 2002 and 2005, prior to the impoundment of the Eastmain-1 reservoir, 50 archeologists and Cree workers undertook archeological digs. They discovered 158 sites and their work shows that the Baie-James territory has been occupied by these populations for the last 5,000 years.

The major findings of the COMEX were as follows:

  • […]”the Committee is convinced that the Eastmain-1-A and Sarcelle Powerhouses and Rupert Diversion Project will have contributed to greater understanding between all the parties concerned, to greater Cree involvement in the development of the territory, and perhaps to empowering them to achieve their long- term economic and community development goals.”
  • “Compared to previous projects carried out in the territory, the Eastmain-1- A/Sarcelle/Rupert project included more adequate and an unprecedented number of mitigation and compensation measures, for both environmental and social impacts. Many of these measures are aimed at helping Cree land users reclaim the territory. A new approach was developed and the Crees have benefited from the partnerships built with the proponent, thereby forging a new relationship.”
  • “Hydro-Québec was proactive, exceeding the requirements of the certificate of authorization in an effort to minimize the project’s impacts and ensure greater Cree involvement in environmental and social follow-up activities.”
  • “Hydro-Québec went to great lengths to ensure that Aboriginal communities derive benefit from the project.”

A new project development model

The Eastmain Complex – the most recent phase of development in Baie-James – added a potential energy output of 8.7 TWh per year, enough to power more than 500,000 Québec homes. The new relationships that Hydro-Québec and the Cree Nation developed over that period have become models for future energy resource development throughout Québec. With considerable untapped hydropower potential and a strong wind potential in Québec, Hydro-Québec’s new and improved project development model holds great promise for the future of clean energy in northeast North America.

Jacob Irving, President of Energy Council of Canada

The Canadian Energy Compendium is an annual initiative by the Energy Council of Canada to provide an opportunity for cross-sectoral collaboration and discussion on current topics in Canada’s energy sector.  The 2020 Canadian Energy Compendium: Innovations in Energy Efficiency is due to be released November 2020.

Click to read comments about this series from Jacob Irving, President of the Energy Council of Canada.

Read more on Todayville.

 

 

The Energy Council of Canada brings together a diverse body of members, including voices from all energy industries, associations, and levels of government within Canada. We foster dialogue, strategic thinking, collaboration, and action by bringing together senior energy executives from all industries in the public and private sectors to address national, continental, and international energy issues.

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Alberta

Alberta ombudsman says she doesn't have the power to probe EMS dispatch consolidation

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EDMONTON — Alberta’s ombudsman says she doesn’t have the power to investigate a complaint about the decision to consolidate ambulance emergency dispatch services in the province.

The complaint was filed by the cities of Red Deer, Calgary, Lethbridge and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.

The municipalities have contended that the decision to consolidate the dispatch services to save the government money could put the lives of people in their communities at risk.

In a release late Friday, Ombudsman Marianne Ryan says the decision was technically made by Alberta Health Services, which her office is prohibited by law from investigating.

When the United Conservative government announced the consolidation in August 2020, then health minister Tyler Shandro said the province’s dispatch system would allow for better co-ordination of all ground ambulances and air resources.

At the time, the four mayors of the municipalities, none of whom are now still in office, said they were blindsided by the decision and would fight the change.

“While the issue being complained about clearly affects many Albertans, I am bound by my governing legislation to only investigate matters that are clearly within my jurisdiction,” Ryan said in the release.

“Given the substance of the complaint has been widely reported in the media and that it relates to an issue affecting a great many Albertans, I advised the mayors that I would be making a public statement.”

Last February, a judge granted an interim injunction sought by Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services after the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo stopped transferring emergency medical calls to the provincial dispatch centre.

The municipality, which includes Fort McMurray, stopped transferring calls after its council decided the provincial ambulance dispatch service was putting patients at risk due to delays and confusion.

A lawyer for Wood Buffalo had argued it was in the public interest for the municipality to keep handling emergency medical calls through its own dispatch centre.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 26, 2021

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Alberta Ombudsman can’t do anything about City of Red Deer complaint about 9-11 Dispatch

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Ombudsman Responds to Municipalities’ Complaint About Ambulance Dispatch

Marianne Ryan, Alberta’s Ombudsman took the unusual step of publicly commenting on a complaint received involving Alberta Health Services.

The City of Red Deer, along with the municipalities of Calgary, Lethbridge and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo filed a complaint to the Ombudsman regarding Alberta Health Services’ consolidation of ambulance emergency dispatch services.

The Ombudsman Act authorizes the Ombudsman to investigate administrative decisions of government ministries and many related bodies, but the Act specifically prohibits her from investigating decisions of Alberta Health Services (AHS).

“My office thoroughly analyzed the complaint and confirmed that the decision to consolidate ambulance dispatch services was indeed made by AHS. While many government-related bodies fall under my jurisdiction, AHS is not one of them,” stated Marianne Ryan, Alberta’s Ombudsman. “In fact, the Ombudsman Act specifically states that my powers of investigation do not apply to health authorities. My ability to investigate AHS decisions would require a change in legislation. While the issue being complained about clearly affects many Albertans, I am bound by my governing legislation to only investigate matters that are clearly within my jurisdiction.”

Investigations by the Ombudsman are conducted in confidence, and it is the Ombudsman’s general practice not to comment publicly on complaints, especially ones that are not being investigated.

“Given the substance of the complaint has been widely reported in the media and that it relates to an issue affecting a great many Albertans, I advised the mayors that I would be making a public statement.”

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