Former Canuck Willie Mitchell Speaks Out Against Kokish River Private Power Project Amid Prime Steelhead Habitat


Read this story from The Globe and Mail about NHL star Willie Mitchell’s stand against a planned private river diversion project on the north end of Vancouver Island. The IPP on the Kokish River was stealthily rubber stamped recently by the BC Environmental Assessment Office with minimal public comment and no real consultation.

Willie Mitchell, a rugged defenceman for the Los Angeles Kings and a former Vancouver Canuck, is dropping his gloves to fight for a river he has loved since he was a boy.

“The Kokish is close to my heart,” he said of the river on northern Vancouver Island where a proposed independent power project would divert a substantial amount of the water into a pipe to generate hydroelectricity.

“I learned to steelhead fish on that river as a boy. … I call it my little therapy place. I missed time with a concussion when I was with the Canucks. Where did I go to heal? I walked up and down that river every day,” said Mr. Mitchell, who grew up in Port McNeill, just a few kilometres from the Kokish.

The provincial government has embraced the project, with ministers saying the $200-million project will create jobs and produce green power.

But Premier Christy Clark, a self-styled hockey mom, may want to think twice about endorsing the project now that Mr. Mitchell has joined groups calling for the river to be saved.

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About Damien Gillis

Damien Gillis is a Vancouver-based documentary filmmaker with a focus on environmental and social justice issues - especially relating to water, energy, and saving Canada's wild salmon - working with many environmental organizations in BC and around the world. He is the co-founder, along with Rafe Mair, of The Common Sense Canadian, and a board member of both the BC Environmental Network and the Haig-Brown Institute.