Working Hard to Safeguard Paddling Assets for All Canadians

All about Whitewater

All about Whitewater
A Blog about River Preservation and the need to protect our free flowing whitewater resources

Friday, November 6, 2009

Contribute to the new NWPA regulations on Minor Waters


Ken Hahn
Project Manager - Regulatory Development / Gestionnaire de projet - Développement Réglementaire
Navigable Waters Protection Program / Programme de protection de eaux navigables
Marine Safety, Tower C, Place de Ville / Sécurité maritime, Tour C, Place de Ville
330 Sparks Street, 10th Floor, AMSEG / 330, rue Sparks, 10ième étage, AMSEG
Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0N8
Telephone/Téléphone: 613-998-6442
Fax/Télécopieur: 613-998-0637

River Preservationist rants about loosey goosey paddling community

Give this a good read: taken from

Rlob Monti goes postal on weak kneed paddling community and the dire state of river preservation in this country. He said,

Pete, give me a break! Just when I think I can’t get any more fed up you manage to push another button. I’m probably wasting my time here on this forum, but since I rolled up my sleeves, invested a couple years trying to work with you and move this case forward to hearing and working with Jim, Doug and others and taking it on the chin in the end and since I’m a lawyer and an officer of the court then what I have to say is “an informed opinion” coming directly from experience and having been in the trenches in this specific case.

I will also say up front that I blame Jim Coffey and Esprit for teaching me to whitewater kayak and “infecting” me at that time with a love of whitewater. I realize now I was surreptitiously brainwashed during my 5-day learn to ww kayak and I’ve never been the same since.

To my mind the 5K question shouldn’t even be a question. I would never advise a client to avoid a legal responsibility. Own your choices. Be responsible. Be accountable for your actions. Pay your own way. Take the high road. Sometimes it hurts. It’s a simple philosophy but its easier to keep your priorities straight. You don’t spend time dithering around second-guessing yourself and you don’t need a meeting to figure it out. Just because you don’t like the other side’s tactics or you feel cheated, doesn’t mean you should be looking for a wily way out. That’s not cool or wily – its lame. You want cred, you want boaters to be seen as legit, you want others to pick up where you left off, then don’t leave loose ends. Les Amis took three kicks at the judicial can and the bill at the end of the day from other side is 5K. Les Amis fought a battle that was a first for a whitewater organization in this country – a first. Now you are seriously thinking of tarnishing that valiant struggle and ending it on a totally sour note by punctuating that struggle with bankruptcy instead of learning and growing from the experience. That’s idiotic! What Les Amis did was the equivalent of doing a first descent in the legal forum. So it got beat down this time. So what! Who gives up after their first trashing? Only those who never should have taken up the sport in the first place. Learning from defeat and coming back stronger and wiser is where its at. Get a back bone!

As a lawyer knowing what other losing parties have to cough up in cases where they feel they should have won, I say that’s cheap. Les Amis knows full well and was fully advised as to the prospects of success on appeal. The judge at the Federal Court level dismissed without costs but Les Amis decided as is its right and knowing the consequent risks to try not once, but twice in two other judicial levels to get that decision overturned.

Litigation involves the risk that you will lose and have to pay a portion of the winner’s costs. The government won and is now seeking a fraction of what a private party litigant would be seeking in a similar case. So now you need a meeting to figure this out Pete? Give me a Fxxx’g break man! Maybe six people will show up for that meeting if you bribe them with food and depending what’s on t.v. and whether they still live at home with mom and what she’s making them supper that night.

Pete, cancel the dam meeting! Do this instead. Jim has already said he would contribute, right. I’m calling on Jim to donate 1K. Now dig into your own dam pockets and every other contact you have who cares about this issue and come with another 3K. So that’s 4K. Since I called out Jim for 1K, I’m putting my money where my mouth is after already having donating countless hours to that cause and taking it on the chin in court at the end of the day. I will personally match Esprit’s 1K contribution and cut a cheque for $1K to Les Amis. So there’s your court costs. The money I would have used to get a new Nomad I will fork over for this instead. There’s the 5K. Just do it, be done with it, and get your focus forward on the next big thing (Tabaret) and start wrapping your frigging heads around the real challenge – the end game – saving rivers. If you can’t dig up another 3K then that says something directly about you. You never should have gone down this road to begin with.

Les Amis may disappear but what about you? How much damage will you cause to your own reputation being the face of who brought Les Amis down. Let me assure you that if you do this and you ever think in the future that any lawyer, decision-maker, consultant or anyone with any kind of credibility will let their name be associated with yours – where the name Pete Karwacki is involved, forget about it. That will be the kiss of death to the cause.

If you sink this organization over 5K, then my last word on Les Amis will be that I regret ever having taken on Les Amis as a client in the first place, I will regret that I ever went on record, not for the Kipawa, but for you. Your antics and attitude are part of what gave the judge an easy out and damaged the credibility of Les Amis and why he singled you out in the decision. Yet here you go again. Did you act after careful consideration by the Board of Les Amis following a carefully considered in camera discussions about potential ramifications and obtain a resolution from the Board first before making this kind of public query? Did you stop to think how other people, people like me in who put in a ton of sweat equity and my reputation and my firm’s on record with the Court, would be implicated by your actions?

Or did you simply act on your own and hold yourself out as speaking for Les Amis because you happen to be president and so now Les Amis is your alter ego? Unbelievably, you are at it again. It blows my freaking my mind. Let’s be clear about one thing, Pete. I will never ever go near or associate my name with any kind of river issue or organization in which you are involved or able to hold yourself out as a spokesperson for the organization – EVER!

You do this and the negative implications extend far beyond Les Amis but will add fuel to the stereotype of whitewater boaters as freeloading dirtbags. Why listen to whining dirtbags who can’t carry their own weight?

You remember what this is all about – the big picture? Navigability and its preservation (which implicitly preserves rivers in their wild state and provides an underpinning of thriving ecosystems and a sustainable world) should trump. At a minimum the concept of protecting navigability as that concept has been handed down to us over the centuries and is a concept that is the foundation of what has protected waterways and their ongoing navigability to the current day should be seen as a right that presumptively takes precedence over other competing rights. The right of navigability should only be encroached upon where the proponent of such encroachment can demonstrate, using objective and consensus based criteria backed by science (not petty politics or cronyism or labels like economic stimulus) that such encroachment or impairment is justified and is always done in a way wherever possible so as to exact minimum impairment.

The Kipawa case was the first real real opportunity for a whitewater organization to flesh out that discussion, in the context of a rapid that had been safely navigated for decades, had become an international draw to paddlers and was being eliminated at the stroke of a pen. Why? Is the choice the government made, the best choice? What went into the decision-making? What factors were considered? Who was consulted? What is being gained? What is being lost? What are the implications of not just the final decision, but the process by which the decision was arrived at? I saw this as an important case. Too few of you agreed.

Nothing the government did surprised me in this case. I pretty much expected it to do what it did. No big surprise there. The biggest and saddest surprise and part of the problem going forward is this so-called boating community is lame. There’s a whole lot ob talk (all kinds of trash on this board) but very few walk the talk. In the U.S. there is American Whitewater fighting the feds, getting dams busted up, getting releases, defending access.

Jim wanted a precedent. I did too, but I always said that momentum is something that has to be built. A precedent may take time coming. What has to happen first is people ( a whole lot of people) just need to recognize and agree that here was something worth saving. Could people mobilize around a river festival that has gone for decades is known far and wide and has publicized a gorgeous river with excellent first hand evidence of navigation. This case was about sending a wake up call and seeing who out there was even listening and how many people cared.

Save for exceptional individual bright lights: Jim Coffey, Doug Skeggs, friends at the Sierra Club, other organizations like WO that did make a contribution, Bobbie and others who organized the fundraiser concert in Toronto, this so-called boating community proved to be just a theory. The “community” I went to bat for that I expected to put a big shout out and make this a political issue proved to be a pretty marginal subgroup in the end.

If that community is out there, it never really woke up. What needed to materialize didn’t. We had the first level hearing in the Supreme Court of Canada building. There was an opportunity to send a message. It didn’t happen. Well, maybe it missed that one and would show in the Federal Court of Appeal. No again.

Boaters couldn’t agree that this case mattered. Even less would dig into their pockets to contribute. Too many saw it as marginal and not worth the effort. Most failed to see it as the “thin edge of the wedge” that will embolden other interests and make damming other rivers with the stroke of a pen and ignoring the concerns of whitewater boaters that much easier. If boaters didn’t get it, then what possible chance is there to build a persuasive case that will convince the average citizen, a politician or a legislator that what you care about matters or should matter to the broader citizenry?

So the NWPA comes under attack and Jim Coffey and Doug Skeggs organized the demonstration on Parliament Hill. Here was a real opportunity for boaters at the grass roots to come together, to make some noise and to celebrate the rivers they love in a show of mass support for river preservation. It was an extremely low effort investment required from the community to show you care about paddling rivers and want to keep paddling those rivers. All you had to do was show up. The Rupert is gone. Part of the Ashlu is gone. The Pet is being assessed for a hydro diversion. Anybody see a pattern? You want to see how a river gets saved, read up on the dam that was never built on the Franklin river in Tasmania and how support was rallied to the point where numbers reached 20,000 – in Tasmania! Something like 1200 people were arrested in protest and blockades. Ask yourself the question. How did they get so many people to care and why don’t enough care here?

So how many showed for the cause– maybe 50. Fifty! I can see how some might superficially dismiss the Kipawa case because you said it was just about a dam. But surely you would care enough about other rivers in Canada to show up when it mattered right? Nope. That sent a very clear message about how much this issue resonates or doesn’t. More importantly it shows how many boaters will get their asses out of boats and move them to be a political force. Not showing up does send a clear message. The community did a good job of showing industry and politicos that they can keep on ignoring you because when push comes to shove, you’d rather stay home or just go boating. This is the point I think Maggs has made several times already and I agree with him on that.

Stopping the loss of rivers and protecting rapids will only happen with cohesion, dedication, hard work and persistence. Most importantly, if there is a ww boating community, it has to wake up. It has to mobilize en masse. It can’t sit back thinking one, two or 10 people will get the job done while the rest benefit without having to lift a finger. There has to be a critical mass. Until there is ww boaters will just be brushed off with form letters and ignored. Based on what I’ve seen and what I continue to see on this board (with stunts like Pete’s) I’m pretty sure it will not happen anytime soon. Most here are just looking to be entertained.

Whitewater boaters in this country will continue to lose and lose and lose until people get their s@#(t together, roll up their sleeves and do some real work (but why do real work trying to make a difference when you can just flame people on this board with a few keystrokes instead). At least boaters in the U.S., through American Whitewater got it right. At least I live close to the Adirondacks, so I’ll always have place to paddle protected rivers. But it saddens me as a Canadian, a paddler, a father to see the places that make this country not just great, but spectacular and a draw around the world, being diminished and pilfered away for short term gain of very few at the expense of Canadians generally through a combination of shortsightedness and the indifference of the silent and apathetic majority who are just letting it happen.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Notice of Special General Meeting

Special General meeting of Les Amis De la Riviere Kipawa:

Date: December 12th

Time: 14:00 hours

Location: Ottawa, 80 Ontario Street.

Requirements: 10 members present. 30 days written notice.

Agenda Items:

The issue at hand is our obligation to both protect the Kipawa river and
deal with our outstanding court costs to the Government of Canada in
accordance with our constitution. ( attached).

The Proposed course of actions include:

1. To default and declare bankruptcy
2. To plead for terms based on our Kipawa Rally Income
3. To create a public raucus and withhold any payment.
4. any other option brought forward to the special meeting.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Ministry of Transport wants feedback by Dec. 31st


Court Costs and the Public Interest

Les Amis is informed that it must pay the Federal Government (Attorney General) $5,000 for the government's costs because of our Appeal to the Federal Court and Leave for Appeal to the Supreme Court.

We have no money but they insist we pay, meaning bankruptcy for Les Amis, a non profit river preservation organization based in Quebec.

The court case fought to the limit of the law was fought to preserve the Kipawa River, something done in the public interest. Nobody in Les Amis benefited from this, it took countless volunteer hours to mount the challenge.

Does anybody see a problem with this?

Does anybody care?



Canadian Rivers

Canadian Rivers
I speak for river users too!

The Queen is not amused!

The Queen is not amused!

The Damned Dam - 2005 -

The Damned Dam - 2005 -
22nd Annual Kipaw Rally has modest turnout. - 23rd does better

The Ashlu river: it could happen to you

The Ashlu river: it could happen to you

Whitewater Ontario

Whitewater Ontario
Working Hard to Protect Canada's Paddling Resources

Whitewater Ontario - Mission Statement

It is Whitewater Ontario’s mission to support the whitewater paddling community through the promotion, development and growth of the sport in its various disciplines. We accomplish this through the development of events, resources, clubs, and programs for personal and athletic development, regardless of skill level or focus, to ensure a high standard of safety and competency; We advocate safe and environmentally responsible access and use of Ontario’s rivers. Whitewater Ontario is the sport governing body in the province, and represents provincial interests within the national body Whitewater Canada and the Canadian Canoe Association

Kipawa, Tabaret, and Opemican

Kipawa, Tabaret, and Opemican
If Hydro Quebec is not actively pursuing Tabaret what is that bite out of Opemican for?

Kipawa Dam: After

Kipawa Dam: After
Laniel Dam at 2006 Rally

Where is the Kipawa

Where is the Kipawa
Kipawa flows into lake Temiskamingue, running from Kipawa Lake, under hwy 101 in Quebec

Kipawa Dam

Kipawa Dam
laniel dam at 2004 River Rally

Tabaret is a Bad Idea

About the Kipawa

The best thing paddlers can do to help the cause of the Kipawa:

1. attend the rally and bring others including non paddlers to attend and buy beer and have fun

2. write your MP /MNA and raise the issue and post your objections -1 letter = 200 who didn't write

3. Write Thierry Vandal the CEO of Hydro Quebec strongly opposing the 132 MW standard decrying the use of "diversion" as the most environmentally inappropriate method of power production

4. Write Jean Charest, Premier of Quebec protesting that either the algonquin or the tabaret project will eliminate all other values on the Kipawa River by turning it into a dry gulch.

5. See if you can get other allied groups interested by showing your own interest, ie the Sierra Defense Fund, Earthwild, MEC, and so on.

6. Demand further consultation

7. Currently we are at the point where we need to sway public opinion and raise awareness.

However, if all else fails, don't get mad, simply disrupt, foment, and protest . The Monkey Wrench Gang.

Have you read Edward Abbey?

Important Addresses
CEO,Hydro Québec, 75 boul René Levesque, Montreal, P.Q., H2Z

Tabaret is a Bad Idea (Part Two)

Les Amis de la Riviere Kipawa is poised to use an application to the Federal Court to issue a Writ of Mandamus to ensure the Minster does what he is supposed to do, protect the public's right to navigate the water control structure at Laniel, Quebec using the Navigable Waters Protection Act. (see

In the now gutted Navigable Waters Protection Act lay the means by which the Minister of Transport could keep the public right of passage down our great Canadian Heritage, our rivers and streams which are threatened especially by resource corporations and power brokers such as Hydro Quebec.

These powerful entities continue to petition that 'this' river or 'that' stream is not navigable and therefore not protectable.
I don't say that dams and bridges should not be built, only that if they are, historical navigation rights should be considered and preserved by making reasonable accommodations for recreational boaters.

It is the Minister of Transport, in exercising the right to allow or disallow work on or over a navigable waterway is what keeps boats and recreational boaters plying our waterways.

To many recent cases launched in the Federal Court concerning the Navigable Waters Protection Act, most recently the case of the Humber Environment Group of Cornerbrook Newfoundland versus the Cornerbrook Pulp and Paper Company indicates that the important oversight is not being faithfully performed. Have we really come to the point now where we must say "such and such a stream is one foot deep, possessing so many cubic feet per second flow and so on?" The answer to this is... YES!

The honourable Mr. Justice John A. O'Keefe, ruled that it had not been shown that the river was navigable. How convenient was that to the Minister? But either the Minister of Transport acts to protect our rivers and streams as a public right or he does not and that means rivers and streams currently enjoyed by kayakers and canoists.

Enough of the cheating, and double-talk. Canadians! our rivers and streams are our own, lets urge the Minister of Transport and the our government to protect them.

Peter Karwacki

Tabaret is a Bad Idea (Part Three)

10 Reasons WhyTabaret is a Bad Idea1) Tabaret is too big. The station is designed to useevery drop of water available in the Kipawawatershed, but will run at only 44 percent capacity.We believe the Tabaret station is designed to usewater diverted from the Dumoine River into theKipawa watershed in the future. 2) The Tabaret project will eliminate the aquaticecosystem of the Kipawa River.The Tabaret project plan involves the diversion of a16-km section of the Kipawa River from its naturalstreambed into a new man-made outflow from LakeKipawa. 3) Tabaret will leave a large industrial footprint on thelandscape that will impact existing tourismoperations and eliminate future tourism potential. 4) The Tabaret project is an aggressive single-purposedevelopment, designed to maximize powergeneration at the expense of all other uses. 5) River-diversion, such as the Tabaret project, takinglarge amounts of water out of a river’s naturalstreambed and moving it to another place, is verydestructive to the natural environment. 6) The Kipawa River has been designated a protectedgreenspace in the region with severe limitations ondevelopment. This designation recognizes theecological, historical and natural heritage value ofthe river and the importance of protecting it.Tabaret will eliminate that value. 7) If necessary, there are other, smarter and morereasonable options for producing hydro power onthe Kipawa watershed. It is possible to build a lowimpactgenerating station on the Kipawa river, andmanage it as a “run-of-the-river” station, makinguse of natural flows while maintaining other values,with minimal impact on the environment. 8) The Kipawa watershed is a rich natural resource forthe Temiscaming Region, resonably close to largeurban areas, with huge untapped potential fortourism and recreation development in the future.Tabaret will severely reduce this potential. 9) Tabaret provides zero long-term economic benefitfor the region through employment. The plan is forthe station to be completely automated andremotely operated. 10) The Kipawa River is 12,000 years old. The riverwas here thousands of years before any peoplecame to the region. The Tabaret project will change all that.

Problems on a local River?

  • There is more to do as well but you have to do your research and above all, don't give up.
  • IN the meantime prepared a document itemizing the history of navigation of this spot and its recreational value. Use the Kipawa river history of navigation as a guide: see
  • Under the Ministry of Environment guidelines you have a set period of time to petition the change under the environmental bill of rights, you may have limited time to take this action. But it involves going to court for a judicial review of the decision.
  • 4. contact the ministry of natural resources officials and do the same thing.
  • 3. contact the ministry of the environment and determine if they approved the project
  • 2. determine if the dam was a legal dam, approved under the navigable waters protection act.
  • 1. research the decision and timing of it to determine if an environmental assessment was done.

Minden Ontario

Minden Ontario
Gull River Water control at Horseshoe lake

A History of Navigation on the Kipawa River

Prior to the environmental assessment there was no signage at the Laniel Dam

T-Shirts Area: These are available now!

T-Shirts Area: These are available now!
Send $25 and a stamped self addressed envelop for the Tshirt, and for the bumper sticker, a stamped and self addressed envelope with $5.00 for the bumper sticker to Les Amis de la rivière Kipawa, 80 Ontario St., Ottawa, Ontario, K1K 1K9 or click the link To purchase a Les Amis "T" contact Doug with the following information: Number of shirts:Sizes: Ship to Address: Method of Payment: cash, cheque and paypal, Shipto address:

Bumper Stickers Now Available

Bumper Stickers Now Available
Get your bumper sticker and show your support for the Kipawa Legal Fund ! - send $5.00 in a Stamped, self addressed envelope to: Peter Karwacki Box 39111, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1H 7X0