Floating on the surface and spinning less than 10 revolutions per minute, the tidal-powered paddlewheel being tested by Haida Gwaii’s own Yourbrook Energy Systems seeks to avoid many of the environmental and maintenance issues with faster, seafloor-mounted tidal projects. (Andrew Hudson/Haida Gwaii Observer)

November news from the NCRD

Regional district says yes to Yourbrook’s tidal project and wildfire planning, no to Enbridge LNG

Yes for YES

North Coast Regional District directors are supporting plans to test a prototype tidal power plant along the east side of Masset Inlet.

“We basically felt that they should just approve this project,” said Queen Charlotte Mayor Kris Olsen.

“Everyone on the board was just so for the alternate-energy proposal that they had.”

Yourbrook Energy Systems is a Haida Gwaii start-up that has already built a small prototype of a slow-spinning, surface water wheel that could power a hydroelectric generator.

Related: Yourbrook Energy looks to scale up tidal project

Turning at less than 10 revolutions per minute, the wheel pumps water through a closed loop of pipes, with some going to fill an upland water reservoir that empties at slack tide to keep the power generation steady.

Yourbrook hopes to anchor its existing prototype along Masset Inlet just west of Pure Lake. Besides finding out how much tidal energy is available at the site, Yourbrook plans to explore the upland area to site a reservoir, penstock, and power house.

If the site looks like it will work, the company would then scale up to a larger tidal wheel that could actually send 500 kW of power to the northern Haida Gwaii grid. Powered entirely by the diesel-fired generators beside Masset Airport, it takes about 10 million litres of diesel fuel to power the northern grid each year.

No to LNG

Enbridge wants more time to build a pair of North Coast LNG pipelines, but the idea got ten thumbs down at the North Coast Regional District.

At their first meeting since the October election, directors on the ten-member NCRD board voted unanimously on Nov. 16 to reject Enbridge’s request for a five-year extension to its environmental certificate. The regional district will send a letter to B.C.’s Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) recommending that it rejects the extension request.

“We all stated no, that we don’t feel it’s in the best interest of our regional district for them to have an application extension,” said Q.C. Mayor and NCRD Director Kris Olsen.

At issue is the Westcoast Connector Gas Transmission project, a plan to build a pair of 48-inch pipelines from northeast B.C. to a future gas liquefaction plant along the North Coast.

The plan was approved by the B.C. EAO in 2014. But without an extension, the certificate will lapse in November 2019.

Evan Putterill, the NCRD director representing Moresby Island, said in a report to constituents that the LNG project is not in the interest of meeting Canada’s climate targets, adding that it will lead to an increase in fracking, local greenhouse-gas emissions from the liquefaction plant, and that increasing dependence on fossil fuels instead of focusing on energy alternatives is not in the best interest of the region.

The Westcoast Connector Gas Transmission Project was originally owned by Spectra Energy, which has since merged with Enbridge.

Although plans for the LNG plant it was originally intended to supply — Prince Rupert LNG — have since been cancelled, Enbridge says it remains in talks with other proponents.

Planning for wildfires

Sandspit’s volunteer firefighters are leading a push for a community wildfire protection plan.

Evan Putterill, a firefighter and the newly elected regional district director for Moresby Island, is hoping to secure a Union of B.C. Municipalities grant that will cover the planning cost.

“We have had two summers of extreme fire hazard and with trees coming right up to the community and very close to dwellings in many parts, it is time to take a look at this,” Putterill said in an email to staff at the North Coast Regional District.

At the Nov. 16 NCRD board meeting, the directors voted unanimously to have staff study the Sandspit wildfire plan proposal based on some preliminary work by consultants at BA Blackwell and Associates and Sandspit Fire Chief Robert Ells.

Staff at the Village of Queen Charlotte are making a similar proposal for a wildfire plan, noting that the grant application may be looked on more favourably if a single plan is done for Sandspit, Skidegate, Queen Charlotte and surrounding areas.

“Because we share a forest, behind us, with our neighbouring community in Skidegate, we’ve also sent this to the Skidegate Band Council to see if they would be interested in partnering,” said Lori Wiedeman, chief administrative officer for the Village of Queen Charlotte.

Putterill said the NCRD director for Graham Island, Johanne Young, has also expressed interest in the idea. Putterill also noted that the more communities take part, the lower the overall cost will be.

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