Atlin residents oppose weir

Yukon Energy's proposal to build a weir on Atlin Lake has angered Atlin, BC, residents. Many expressed strong disapproval of the proposed project to Yukon Energy representatives at an open meeting on June 1.

Yukon Energy’s proposal to build a weir on Atlin Lake has angered Atlin, BC, residents.

Many expressed strong disapproval of the proposed project to Yukon Energy representatives at an open meeting on June 1.

“Atlin does want it to be known that they are totally opposed,” said Lynne Phipps, Atlin community improvement district administrator.

There will be no advantages for the town, say residents.

The weir will not benefit Atlin whatsoever, said Phipps. “It’s only a detrimental thing to the lake, the fisheries and to the environment.”

Yukon Energy wants to build the weir to keep water in Atlin Lake for use in the winter, when more energy is needed.

Yukon Energy currently produces 370 gigawatt hours of energy. The Atlin weir would add 18 gigawatt hours, said Yukon Energy spokesperson Janet Patterson.

This would displace up to 4.8-million litres of diesel power and eliminates 12,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases, she added.

“Yukon Energy’s job is to provide Yukoners with enough clean, affordable and reliable electricity to keep lights on and businesses thriving.”

Despite the commitment to clean energy, Atliners consider it a dirty plan.

“It’s like someone knocking on your door and saying, ‘We’re moving into your living room,’ and you’re so aghast you can’t say anything and they take that as approval,” said Carolyn Moore, owner of the Discover Atlin website. “Just the temerity of these people to come in and tell us in BC that they’re going to do this to our lake and what seems to be happening is that they think there’s no opposition to it.”

This was the energy company’s second visit to Atlin.

Nothing has been set in stone, said Patterson.

“These are just concepts at this point,” she said. “Nobody’s made decisions. We haven’t even gathered all the information we need to determine if these are viable projects or not.”

More study is needed. The utility still doesn’t have all the answers to residents’ questions.

“People thought we should have answers to questions we just don’t have right now and that frustrated them,” said Patterson.

Over the next four years, more than $3 million will be spent on studies to provide answers on fish spawning, water quality, effects on vegetation, animals and shoreline erosion.

Another Atlin meeting will be held in the fall, said Patterson.

Tuesday, a meeting in Marsh Lake on its weir provoked mixed reactions. Some supported revamping the structure, others had questions and environmental concerns, said Patterson.

The Marsh Lake project would help generate another eight gigawatt hours of energy.

Contact Larissa Robyn Johnston at

larissaj@yukon-news.com.

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