News from Glacier Creek Road
Rainbow's End Ranch - Glacier Creek
Glacier/Howser Hydroelectric Proposal
An overview of the Glacier Creek blockade
Getting Lyrical about the Duncan
Letters & Documents
IPP Watch - a comprehensive volunteer-run database utilizing Goggle Earth to document nearly 500 British Columbia hydroelectric "run of the river" developments and project proposals by independent power producers
Environmental Assessment Office of BC - index page for the Glacier/Howser project
I have known Mick and Gabriela Grabowsky for ten years. They live in a remote area of the Duncan Valley to the north of Kaslo and Kootenay Lake. Their Rainbow's End Ranch property is in a very narrow bottleneck along the Glacier Creek drainage. Their wilderness way of life as well as their love and passion for their horses has become a rarity in this age of modernism. But like all hopes for Shangri-La and attempts to live in peace with nature, they have had to face the cult of the machine and people driven to dominate and manage our resources by exploiting them. Roads, logging and mining changed the course of Glacier Creek. Islands disappeared and logs with other debris clogged the waterways to such an extent that the original road was washed out and a new road was carved through their property. With broken streams and no trees to stop the erosion, avalanche conditions became more prevalent. There are now so many logging roads up the Duncan that B.C.'s Ministry of Forests (MoF) can't maintain them all at once.
With a heavy snow pack this year the run-off was torrential. Glacier Creek rose and wiped out a section of Glacier Creek road. During my first weeks of visiting, I was up to my knees in water crossing over to the Ranch. Rocks and trees came down and were blocking the road as well. For all the years that Mick and Gabriela complained about the road condition and vehicles speeding through their property, barely any attention was paid to them. But when the Axor Group [Purcell Green Power] power project was on the verge of being approved, the road suddenly became very important. Gabriela told Axor's bosses that there wasn't enough room in the valley for the two of them. A short time later, MoF denied the Grabowskys their grazing rights and then the S.P.C.A. showed up to check their animals. It was all very intimidating. So we blocked the road that was already blocked by nature and the Grabowskys demanded that MoF settle their grazing rights and the road issue. One day Tom Prior went to the Nelson Daily News and Neil Murphy of Axor Green Power was there. Murphy admitted that Axor was investing in the road repairs - all this before approval [of the Glacier/Howser hydroelectric project] had even been received. This admission brought much discomfort to MoF, who denied any liaison with Axor.
We all baked on the road in 100 degree Fahrenheit temperature for weeks dealing with MoF, the road builders and the Ministry of Environment. Sympathetic local people and tourists came and listened. The few irate ones argued. We gathered at least 400 signatures for the petition against the Axor ‘Green' Project. Finally, a gentlemen's (women's) agreement was reached with MoF and the road was opened for repairs. At the very end of their work, MoF clear-cut 1/4 acre of trees on the Grabowsky's property in case they might fall on the road. The Grabowskys were very upset and felt this action only increased the danger of the whole hillside sliding down. For safety reasons, they blocked the road once more, asking for compensation and that MoF accept liability for any future disaster. Letters went back and forth, and there were more visits. Relations were strained and communication became that much harder between the two parties.
Then people on the Jumbo Wild campaign decided to advertise a protest march against the proposed 5000 bed Jumbo ski hill development. They did not even bother to ask the Grabowskys if they would open the road up for the hike, which was rather upsetting. I felt that the best way to be fair was to open it for everyone and set up an information camp. I drew up posters and we distributed them locally and throughout the valleys, asking people to come see Glacier Creek and get the facts about all these hydro projects across B.C. and about Jumbo Resort and the Grabowsky's little ranch. We waited patiently and then realized we were being blocked because nobody came.
Henry and I went down Glacier Creek Road to have a look. We were greeted by a large angry group of local people who were pro-progress Axor, but who most of all were very angry with Mick and Gabriela. They criticized the Grabowsky's lifestyle and their horses in a very derogatory way. I suggested that they call a meeting in Meadow Creek and we would come with our facts. No matter what I said, nothing seemed to make a difference. It just felt harsh - Henry and I were shaken. At least entire families had gathered and they had organized themselves to make a statement rather than resorting to other means. Further down Duncan Road there were a hundred people gathered for Jumbo Wild who bared their bums on the Hamil Creek bridge because they were unable to drive up Glacier Creek Road.
The Grabowsky's roadblock is still up. It must be the longest blockade in Kootenay history. The Grabowskys are still dealing with MoF and, too this day, have not received any grazing rights. In the meantime the Axor Group [Purcell Green Energy] has delivered two official papers, threatening an injunction. We wait and pray for snow... we pray for peace on earth...Eloise Charet October 11, 2007
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