Local officials want changes made to Wilsey Dam so salmon can navigate the Shuswap River.

Local officials want changes made to Wilsey Dam so salmon can navigate the Shuswap River.

Fish ladder sought for Wilsey Dam

There’s hope salmon may eventually overcome a major hurdle on the Shuswap River

There’s hope salmon may eventually overcome a major hurdle on the Shuswap River.

Regional District of North Okanagan officials have met with Energy Minister Bill Bennett and B.C. Hydro to discuss the possibility of constructing a fish passage at Wilsey Dam near Lumby.

“There is an opportunity to move this forward,” said Rick Fairbairn, RDNO chairperson and rural Lumby director.

The dam was constructed at Shuswap Falls in 1929.

During the meeting at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention, B.C. Hydro committed to a process that results in getting salmon past the dam.

The Crown corporation and the ministry are considering interim solutions for fish passage pending long-term capital decisions on the future of the dam.

B.C. Hydro’s water license at Wilsey Dam is up for renewal in 2017 and a potential condition of renewal is the development of a viable plan for fish passage.

Fairbairn says allowing fish to navigate the dam would benefit the environment and the local economy through tourism.

“It’s a win-win. First Nations, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the province and all of the fish and game clubs are involved,” he said.

“A lot of work has gone into this, especially from MLA Eric Foster.”

RDNO will meet with B.C. Hydro Oct. 28 to discuss the issue further.

“We will refine some of the figures on the weir system they favour,” said Fairbairn.