Run-of-the-river Hydro Builds First Nation Economy

A 6.5 MW, run-of-the-river hydro power facility at China Creek in the Vancouver Islands will generate revenues for two native North American communities, or “First Nations”, and supply power to the BC Hydro grid. The Government of Canada is funding CAD $2 million (US $1.63 million) to assist the Hupacasath and Ucluelet First Nations and their partners with constructing and running the facility.

Stephen Owen, Minister of Western Economic Diversification and Minister of State, attending the powerhouse ground breaking on behalf of Andy Scott, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Metis and Non-Status Indians. The Hupacasath First Nation and its joint venture partners, which include the Ucluelet First Nation, the City of Port Alberni and Synex Energy, have formed the Upnit Power Corporation, which has a 20-year contract to supply power to BC Hydro. Upnit Power will help the Hupacasath and Ucluelet generate annual revenues that can be reinvested back into their communities to support other economic ventures, such as training and employment opportunities. Regional benefits include creating a new reliable and steady power source that will help to ease the increasing heavy demand by Vancouver Island users on the hydro grid. “Once complete, this unique facility will assist in reinvigorating a region hard-hit by the softwood lumber dispute,” said Minister Owen. “Western Economic Diversification Canada’s involvement in this initiative is reflective of the Government of Canada’s commitment to helping communities build long-term sustainability.” An additional $925,000 in a repayable loan for this initiative was provided by Western Economic Diversification Canada through its Softwood Industry Community Economic Adjustment Initiative. The $110 million initiative is a national program designed to address the adjustment and transition needs of forest-dependent communities across Canada. In B.C., over 2,500 jobs have been created or maintained in more than 140 communities. Indian and Northern Affairs Canada provided an additional $250,000 through its Aboriginal and Northern Community Action Program. The program, which promotes the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, is focused on engaging Aboriginal and northern communities to become partners in taking action to address climate change.
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