The Premier’s Hidden Agenda: Site C

The decision to move to stage 3 of Site C indicates that the BC Liberals are willing to sacrifice twenty percent of BC’s top agricultural land, the livelihood of farmers and the rights of First Nations people simply to gain export power and power for fossil fuel extraction.Site C moving to stage three is just an announcement to move into the regulatory stage – not for construction of the dam. We are relieved that we will be entering a formal environmental assessment process: the consultation process to date has been totally unsatisfactory. The process so far has shown a heavy pro-construction bias and the question has yet to be asked whether or not we want or need this dam. This megaproject and the people of BC deserve a full federal review panel. This means impartial experts to review and assess the huge impacts and public hearings that allow for the concerns of BC citizens to be heard. We are confident that it will not pass the assessments and that, in the long term, it is not in the best interest of British Columbians.

The Peace River is one of North America’s key rivers, about 1,500 kms long and the only river to carve through the Rockies.,. Already impacted by two major dams further upstream, the remaining warm and rich valley bottom has become even more important for wildlife and agriculture. Site C would flood lengths of river valleys equivalent to the stretch from Richmond to Chilliwack or Langley to Hope. The Peace River valley has some of the best agricultural land in BC and it would result in the flooding of over 7,000 acres of class 1 and 2 soils. This is the biggest threat to the Agricultural Land Reserve and agriculture in general from a single project in BC. In light of climate change, BC food security is critical and irreplaceable. The banks of the Peace Valley near the Site C dam are highly susceptible to sloughing and sliding, making the actual footprint of the proposed reservoir much larger due to the massive amounts of erosion that is expected to occur. It is wrong to flood such vast quantities of prime agricultural land to export power.

First the government said we needed the power for domestic use, then they admitted in the February 2010 throne speech that it is for export. The BC agricultural plan says “All British Columbians should have access to safe, locally produced food” and includes as a strategy “Preservation of agricultural land for future generations of farm and ranch families”. Yet they proceed with plans to flood thousands of acres of prime agricultural land. The energy plan states “All new electricity generation projects will have zero net greenhouse gas emissions”, yet they give the go ahead for a megaproject that will produce the equivalent of 36,000 new vehicles on BC roads/year. Can we believe what they say?

Why is this shrouded in such mystery? Why are the Premier and the Minister of Energy, Mines, and Petroleum Resources so afraid to meet the public with this decision, meeting 20 km from the nearest town? It seems this process has been kept hidden behind closed doors, lacking any kind of transparency.

THE FACTS

A Site C large-scale hydroelectric dam
• Is NOT green energy due to the significant environmental impacts
• Wipes out 104km of homes, traditional territory and habitat of local residents and wildlife;
• Is expensive (est. $6.6 to $10 billion) and must be fully researched and compared to other options.

The loss of the massive Peace Valley’s critical ecosystem
• Contributes net emissions of 146,730 tonnes of CO2 eq/year to climate change, equivalent to the addition of 36,000 vehicles to the Lower Mainland;
• Threatens bull trout (a listed species) and migratory birds; and
• Damages valuable wildlife habitat and connectivity in the north-south Rocky Mountain corridor and in the east-west Peace River corridor.

The loss of valuable Peace Valley agricultural land
• Decreases BC’s own food supply and self-sustainability; and
• Displaces farmers from their multi-generational homes and livelihood.

Flooding First Nations’ traditional territory
• Buries valuable archaeological and traditional use areas; and
• Permanently alters territory, wildlife, systems and use.

Alternate green energy options (such as geothermal, wind, solar, tidal, etc.) must be explored first.

pvea(at)shaw.ca           http://www.peacevalley.ca

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