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Gary Backlund

September 16, 2002
To: Daphne Stancil, Project Committee Chair, Environmental Assessment Office

Re: Vancouver Island Generation Project

The purpose of this letter is to express my opposition to the Vancouver Island Generation Project and Georgia Strait Crossing (GSX) Project. Being a long time resident of this area I am concerned about the environmental risk associated with the natural gas strategy for Vancouver Island. High on my list of local concerns are air quality, water use, and health and safety. On a larger scale, I have a concern regarding greenhouse gases and global warming.

Over the almost thirty years that I've lived in the Nanaimo-Ladysmith area, I've watched the smog cloud over Greater Vancouver grow in size and intensity. In the last ten years a smaller, but similar brown haze has grown over Nanaimo and at times stretches all the way to Duncan. It is easy to see most summer days from the water and from hilltops when looking toward Nanaimo.

Even if the pollutant levels are small from the Vancouver Island Generation Project, they will be another straw on the camel's back, making the air pollution load in our area more intolerable. What worries me even more is that the proposed natural gas strategy for Vancouver Island will encourage energy-hungry primary and secondary industries to locate or expand in our area. These won't be as regulated nor as closely monitored and will cause much more pollution than the proposed generation plants.

Summertime groundwater, river, creek and stream levels seem to be worsening. Causes are many, but the situation is real. Although the water use for the proposed project will be part of an existing license, I have to question if this license is or will be in need of updating to reduce the allowable water usage. It would be more environmentally friendly to leave this large amount of water in the river.

Health and safety is a real risk. Unfortunately, accidents, sabotage, terrorism and natural catastrophes are part of our world. I don't think anyone is 100% comfortable living next door to a large gas pipeline. Would you be comfortable with it in your backyard?

On a global level, the large amounts of carbon dioxide that would be produced are in direct opposition to the direction we should be going. Aren't we trying to curb greenhouse gases? I hope Canada ratifies the Kyoto Accord, and if we do, the natural gas strategy for Vancouver Island will be in direct opposition.

If we need more energy for Vancouver Island, we should find it through conservation and new green energy projects such as offshore wind, wave and tide generation, photovoltaic and other forms. In the meantime we should replace the converters on the HVDC line to the Island to bring that powerline back to capacity and give Vancouver Island more time to develop green energy. Although I wouldn't want higher power costs, nor would it help our economy, by boosting our electrical rates slightly, we could use a mild increase to pay for replacing these two converters. Higher power rates will help curb needless/careless energy waste and make conservation measures more cost efficient to install.

Gary Backlund