I am very concerned that the federal government could soon approve the construction of the Site C dam in the Peace Valley.
The Peace is a long way from here, but I know that Kootenay residents will relate to some of the major concerns with this project: the destruction of critical farmland, the impacts to First Nations cultural practices, loss of wildlife habitat including wetlands, and the negative impacts on our climate.
The proposed Site C dam threatens to flood over 100 square kilometres of rich valley-bottom lands, including farmland, wildlife habitat, First Nations cultural sites and heritage sites. The reservoir from Site C would cause the destruction of 6,000 hectares of Peace Valley farmland — resulting in the biggest loss from the Agricultural Land Reserve in its entire 40-year history.
First Nations in the region oppose Site C, and the federal-provincial Joint Review Panel that reviewed the project acknowledged that the project poses a “significant adverse effect” on traditional uses of the land by First Nations, some of which “cannot be mitigated.”
The panel’s other conclusions acknowledge “significant adverse effects on fish and fish habitat,” significant effects on at-risk and sensitive ecological communities and “a significant adverse effect on wetlands.”
Site C would increase annual greenhouse gas emissions in British Columbia by almost 150,000 tonnes. The project’s carbon footprint derives from construction emissions, as well as emissions created by the flooded boreal forest as it decays.
For what? British Columbians may need or want more electricity in the future, but there are better ways to meet our energy needs than destroying our farmland. The panel concluded that: “the Proponent has not fully demonstrated the need for the project on the timetable set forth.”
Some analysts believe that the power from Site C would be used to power the burgeoning gas fracking (hydraulic fracturing) industry. Site C is located above the Montney Formation, the largest shale gas deposit in BC.
It’s worth noting that the Nova Scotia government is banning fracking due to environmental concerns.
In addition, the panel report suggests that the $8 billion price tag that BC Hydro posits for Site C may not be accurate, and recommends oversight by the province’s utility watchdog, the BC Utilities Commission.
That’s at least $8 billion in taxpayer dollars, to build a highly destructive project that we don’t need. Meanwhile an economic study commissioned by the David Suzuki Foundation found that the ecological services provided by farmland and nature in the Peace River watershed are conservatively worth an estimated $7.9 billion to $8.6 billion a year.
Now is the time to stop this project once and for all. I urge readers to write to the BC and federal governments expressing your opposition to the Site C dam.