Friday, April 8, 2011

Record Early Pelican Sighting!!

It seems the pelicans arrived very early.  On March 20th they were spotted at the Sports and Leisure Show!  Luckily a pelican friendly dog called Petey, a Havanese, alerted his owner, Claire Paulson, to this astonishing early arrival:

Now that the weather is warming up, maybe the pelicans will feel they can stop hanging around indoors and get out on the water!  Thanks to Claire Paulson for the excellent photograph!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Hydro Project Stalls

Good news, pelicanistas!

It seems that cooler heads have prevailed and the hydro project may not happen at all.  Which means the surfer dudes are going to have to go surfing in, like, an ocean, eh.  And the whitewater folks are going to have to take their boats to the whitewater, rather than commanding the whitewater to come to them. 

Check out the Star Phoenix story.

So we will be able to enjoy the peaceful scene down at the weir for some time to come.  Maybe for the forseeable future!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Pelican Bytes

Fact: Urban stormwater washes a variety of effluents into the river after every storm, contaminants like gasoline, bacteria like e coli, dog and other animal feces, as well as a range of other pollutants. The City of Saskatoon does nothing to prevent or treat urban stormwater.

Question:  So, if the waterpark is going to be for kids on tubes as well as kayakers, how are we going to ensure that the water is safe?  Is it going to be tested after each storm?  (Last summer, that would have been almost daily!)  Who is going to pay for these tests?

Pelican Byte:   Why not spend 15 million on ways to keep those effluents OUT of our river, rather than making a concrete watercourse as a lure that will encourage our kids to swim in it?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Try to imagine how the whitewater course will look most of the time

That is, empty. Here is a youtube video of the Cardiff International Whitewater course as it fills up.  When it is empty, it is a concrete channel.  So that is the view we will have in Saskatoon when the course isn't running.  And when will that be?  At certain times every day when it is not in use. So, for some hours daily. And overnight, no doubt.  And, um, well, then there is winter, and the cold months in spring and fall.  So won't that be a grand view, when you go down to the weir to look at the river?  An empty course, sometimes littered with brightly coloured blocks, which are used like articifical "rocks" to change the current pattern for the entertainment of the kayakers.

The illustrations shown to us by Saskatoon Light and Power are always of the course running.  Where are the illustrations of how it will look most of the time, that's what we at Pelican Watch would like to know?

On a brighter note, we have only two months and change before the pelicans return!  Until then, keep warm on your walks by the river....

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Wednesday Council Presentations Postponed.

Saskatoon Light and Power will not be presenting their report to Council on Wednesday, August 18th.  Apparently, it isn't ready.  And the issues are proving too controversial.  Saskatoon City Council does not make decisions about controversial issues in the summer. 

This may be good news, of a sort. Maybe the Whitewater Hydro project just won't float?

So now let's go back to enjoying the (ahem) "summer." 

It's a good thing we all look so dashing in fleece...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

City Council Meeting, August 18th, 7 pm

Yo Pelicanistas,

An ad hoc group of citizens is making a brief (20 minute) presentation to council Wednesday, August 18th, at 7 pm. They would dearly love to have some support from like-minded citizens. Please come out and help fill a few seats in the council chamber gallery. City Council needs to know that our objections to the disneyfication of the weir are substantial and on-going.

Here's a preview from the beginning of the presentation:

"I am part of a group of concerned citizens and taxpayers of Saskatoon who have serious questions about the immediate and long-term viability of the proposed Whitewater/Hydro project. Our questions were not adequately addressed during the public presentations held by the City. We are troubled by the public engagement process which is severely limited feedback and due diligence in terms of meaningful evaluation of the project and accountability on a variety of issues. ...Our questions fall into four broad categories: environmental, social, health and safety, and cost and project feasibility. "

If you share these concerns, come out Wednesday to City Hall (222 3rd Ave North) at 7 pm.

Hope you are enjoying the summer, despite the weather!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Fiddling while Rome burns


Public Consultations, aptly called “Open Houses,” were held by Saskatoon Light and Power this week. An Open House reminds you of what? An effort to sell you a house or condo? Or the opening of a new facility, like a new hospital or a new car dealership? Does it make you think of a forum for public discourse on a controversial issue like replacing the contemplative Weir and Island Bird Sanctuary with a combined hydro dam and white- water park? Not really!

Local residents were furious that they had no opportunity to speak publicly about their views on this development. Instead, an assortment of pro-hydro-white water advocates stood at different “stations,” in front of vague panels about the glories of the joint projects, providing what they hoped would be soothing answers to people’s questions. This way, people did not hear one another’s questions and did not have a chance to find out what their neighbours and fellow citizens were thinking. This was billed as a “new way” to do public consultations.

The Open Houses and Stakeholder Meetings left many questions unanswered.

1. Why did the concepts offered to us as different options for the weir development all show the hydro dam and white-water park coexisting in the space now occupied exclusively by fish and birds? Although Saskatoon Light & Power representatives grudgingly acknowledged that the hydro development could happen without the white-water park, no where was this possibility illustrated on any of the brightly coloured panel boards.

2. The baseline environmental report found that a water sample they took from the river detected elevated arsenic levels, levels above those considered safe for humans. If we are going to have kids tubing in the river, how are they going to be safe from coming into contact with this substance?

3. Recently a raw sewage leak that spilled into the river went undetected for some time. How will we warn people, especially children, to say out of the white water park if the water isn’t monitored continually?

4. If storm water runs into the river and raises the levels of bacteria in the river above levels safe for recreational use of the river (as has been documented in Calgary’s Bow River, for instance) how will that be measured and how will adults and children be warned to stay out of the river?

5. If a water park is built, where is the funding coming from and who will receive the revenue it generates? If funding is from the province, from what budget source and why? When asked, ‘who will pay for the operation of the White-Water Park?’ Saskatoon Light and Power officials said the provincial government is likely going to pay for the Park to be constructed—though they haven’t officially committed to doing so—but they don’t know who will pay for ongoing operation of the park, though it could be the City.

6. What will be the noise level be like when large sporting events are held at the White-Water Park? How will this affect City Park residents? Birds on the river island?

7. How much lower will projected hydro dam revenues be if we have several years in a row of very low flows in the river, as we did in the drought years in the 1980s?

8. Why was no Need Assessment or survey done to ascertain whether or not the people of Saskatoon want to pay 15 million dollars for a white-water park that will mostly be used by highly skilled and specialized sports enthusiasts?

9. Why are we paying 15 million dollars for a white-water facility that will only be used four months of the year? If anyone uses it in colder weather, they will a handful of devoted white-water enthusiasts.

10. Will kayaking and tubing and surfing in the South Saskatchewan River—called Canada’s most threatened river by a recent World Wildlife Fund Report—make Saskatonians look like we are fiddling while Rome burns?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Let's celebrate Pelican Power!

Photo and concept courtesy of Dr. Ed Scissons