News Local

Not a done deal: Mayor

By Sean Chase, The Daily Observer

-Council is reminding opponents of power generating stations proposed for the Petawawa River that the project is not a done deal.

Since the firm Xeneca Power Development announced its intentions to build two stations on the fast flowing river, town hall has received at least 50 letters and e-mails from citizens and interest groups opposing any such development.

Last year, council signed a five-year deal with Petawawa Green Electricity Incorporated, a subsidiary of the company, that permits it to access to one of two sites identified for a electrical generating plant.

However, that is as far as the town has gone with its involvement.

"The council of Petawawa has not made any decision," said Councillor Treena Lemay. "I understand there are a whole lot of steps and no one has given any approval."

The Black Bay Ratepayers Association recently met with company vice-president Mark Holmes who assured home and cottage owners along the river that their plants would not damage the river.

Making his pitch, Mr. Holmes said hydrological and topographical studies show the Petawawa River has generation potential.

He estimated the project could mean a major investment in revenues and job creation worth between $12 million and $26 million.

Mayor Bob Sweet told council people should not jump to any conclusions.

He added the firm is still assessing to see if the project is feasible.

"It is very, very preliminary," he said. "They've been very open and up front and met with stakeholders."

The initial plan calls for a station at the Big Eddy rapids situated just west of the Canadian Pacific Railway bridge with the potential to generate up to 10 megawatts.

The second station is slated for Half Mile Rapids in the vicinity of Mountbatten Bridge in the Petawawa military training area.

Currently the company is preparing a water power site strategy, which outlines technical and financial planning for the project.

Consultations are ongoing with the Ministry of Natural Resources and environmental assessments still need to be conducted.

Public meetings are scheduled for next year.

"There's a long, long road to travel," said Mayor Sweet. "At the end of the day, there may not be a business case. They have a lot of work ahead of them."

Chief Administrative Officer Mitch Stillman noted that many of the letters and e-mails came from recreational users, such as kayaking clubs, and other organizations.

Sean Chase is a Daily Observer reporter