The sale of the remaining 2/3rds of the Waneta Dam by Teck to Fortis is the final straw for me in this saga of dismantling Trail Operations to fund this company’s poor investments elsewhere, especially in fossil fuels, which has lost them billions of dollars.
It has been a litany of selloffs over the years which has damaged our area bit by bit.
Back in the 80’s, it was the selloff of West Kootenay Power for a pittance to Utilicorp and finally to Fortis and look at our electricity bills now. Power to energize all types of secondary industry in this area.
Then it was the sale of the electronic materials division that Marc Marcolin worked so hard to establish to Johnson Matthey who promptly took the whole operation out of the country within a couple of years. This was the lost opportunity for a new industry and a new high tech vision for the Kootenays.
Then, when Teck was on the verge of collapse just a few short years ago and government bailouts were no longer an option as they had been in the past, they sold 1/3 of the Waneta Dam to BC Hydro for the colossal sum of $825 million. This after investing in the oil sands to the tune of billions of dollars. Every merchant and service in this area was squeezed to the max by them including the City of Trail.
Now we have the final piece of assets here, by far our most valuable one, being sold off yet again to Fortis for $1.25 billion to fund their poor money-losing investments when Trail Operations are showing a profit.
This cannot be allowed to happen if at all possible because this dam is too vital to the survival of our area. The only reason a world class smelter is here is because of this dam and its cheap power. Are we to be comforted that Teck will probably hang around for another 20 years? Then what?
I have a suggestion for Teck: Do not sell just the Waneta Dam but sell the entire Trail Operations with it to a smelting company with some business smarts, perhaps someone who values this community and its people as well as its bottom line. Then you could take the money and pay off all of your $5 billion debt.
I know I speak for many people who are fed up with the condescending arrogance of this company. This sale is the last straw.
I do not believe we have ever had the pleasure of Mr. Keevel’s company here (perhaps once??) not even on the 100th anniversary of Trail Operations, so he will not be sorely missed. The people of Greater Trail and Kootenay West deserve better than this.
Kenneth B. LeRose, M.D.