The document sets out actions by B.C. Hydro meant to mitigate the potential impacts of the proposed dam on both Taylor and the surrounding area based on concerns put forth by the District. The District maintains that the development of this document in no way endorses the project, but is meant to “safeguard” the community should it proceed and leave it better than it was before construction.
Taylor’s top concern is the future of its water supply, so a detailed monitoring program will be put in place before construction to check on potential effects to water temperature and sediment.
“The composition of the water would change from stored water coming down water, we believe,” says District Administrator Charlotte McLeod. “We just don’t know necessarily how things would change, but we’re worried about the composition of water and the turbidity during construction.”
Measures will also be put in place to protect Taylor’s water treatment plant and pumphouse from shoreline erosion, including the use of rip wrap, and should there be an emergency that affects the district’s ability to get water, Hydro will cover the cost of emergency water hauling.
Another major concern is the expected increase in fog along the Peace River at Taylor, which could adversely affect visibility for drivers, which are also expected to increase while upgrades are being made to Highway 29.
“Access on, off, and across the highway for both pedestrians and local vehicular traffic is really difficult at this point,” argues McLeod, “and the project, we think, will exacerbate that problem… just with the number of people coming through.”
To help with that, street lighting will be installed on the west side of Highway 97 from Birch Avenue West to 100th Street and at intersections, as well as the installation of message signs on the north and south Taylor hills, with weather and road condition information. The creation of another pedestrian crossing was discussed, but the District has had difficulties convincing the Ministry of Transportation of the need, so the lighting was deemed to have a better impact.
As for emergency response and planning, the Taylor Fire Department will receive $20,000 to help support it as there’s expected to be an increased stress on the volunteer firefighters.
“We believe with the change to the amount of people coming into the area and the increased traffic that there is the potential for a higher amount of accidents,” explains McLeod. “In this industrial area there is oil and gas activity and this project itself will, we believe, compound the problem.”
The District will also receive $50,000 to update its emergency preparedness and response plan, as the closer it is to the new dam, the closer it is to a potential disaster.
In Peace Island Park, which is owned by B.C. Hydro and leased by Taylor, a Long-Stay RV Site Plan will be developed to expand the supply of temporary accommodation. At least 20 new spaces and overflow parking will be developed, although it’s noted that the sites are not suitable for year-round accommodation, of which some may be held for B.C. Hydro’s workforce.
Lastly, $100,000 a year for eight years will be provided to the United Way to be distributed to non-profit organizations Taylor residents have access to.
Also included in the Community Agreement are two appendices with concerns Taylor raised about the Spectra plant and Canfor pulp mill and other adverse effect that aren’t specific to Taylor.
The Community Agreement is considered a “working document”, and residents are invited to give their input on it in the coming days.
“There’s been a lot of questions coming in the last few days,” says Taylor Mayor Fred Jarvis. “If there’s any feedback in the next few days then we’ll be trying to work out what we need to incorporate. There’s still some tweaking to do.”
Jarvis adds that the District feels what’s been worked out is “relatively good.”
As part of the Peace River Regional District, Taylor is also part of a Legacy Benefits Agreement with B.C. Hydro that would provide the PRRD with $2.4 million a year that will be spread among its member communities.