The BC provincial election campaign has officially begun.  PVEA would like to note that our focus will continue to be on protecting the Peace River Valley and stopping Site C.  We do not endorse any one party nor candidate.  We encourage everyone to consider their candidates’ position on Site C as they determine which candidate to vote for.

Following and attached are a list of questions you might consider asking candidates in your riding.  We encourage you to visit candidates in your riding and discuss Site C with them. These questions would also be particularly useful during all-candidates’ forums.  Not only will they bring the issue of Site C to light for the candidates and help you determine their position on Site C, but by referring to them in a public forum, you will spread awareness to all in attendance at the event about this critical issue of concern for our province.

Note to residents of Fort St. John:  Many of us received a recorded message this evening stating that Premier Christy Clark will be at Pat Pimm’s office in Fort St. John, tomorrow, April 18th at 11:30 a.m.  Everyone is invited to come and talk with her there.

Thank you for your continuing support.

The questions and back ground information below are also available in PDF form here:  Questions for MLA Candidates Final ALL

Questions for all BC provincial MLA candidates

 

Is the Site C Dam proposal in the best interest of British Columbians?

A series of questions

(Please consider reading the background points and then posing your question – will help ensure that your candidate and any audience members have the benefit of being informed of the facts.)

 

Question #1

Do you think that the Site C Dam is a poor deal for taxpayers and ratepayers?

 

Background:

  • More electricity than the current supply is not needed for residential or commercial use by British Columbians.
  • Hydro rates for residential and commercial ratepayers will have to go up and BC Hydro debt will almost double if the government commits to build the Site C Dam project.
  • Billions of taxpayers’ dollars will subsidize the liquid natural gas (LNG) industry for decades for Malaysian Oil and Gas Conglomerate (Petronas) or Shell Oil to profit.
  • BC would lose important and necessary agricultural land, wildlife habitat and biodiversity, cultural and historic values in a region of the province that already shoulders more than its share of the burdens of development in this province.
  • Losing a rich farm valley to flooding is neither “green” nor “clean” energy.

 

Question #2

Do you think nearly doubling BC Hydro’s debt while the corporation is unable to do anything but get further and further in debt just maintaining and upgrading existing infrastructure is in the best interests of the taxpayers and ratepayers of BC?

 

Background:

  • BC Hydro already has a huge debt of approximately $14 billion and a deferred debt of $4.2 billion as of Dec 31, 2012 according to their financial statements.
  • BC Hydro is already burdened “…with $40 billion in signed contracts to purchase private power,” (Van. Sun, June 20, 2012). This is power that that BC Hydro does not need and the “…BC Utilities Commission would not have approved,” (Marvin Shaffer, Van. Sun, June 7, 2012).
  • BC Hydro have committed to pay independent power producers over 2 times the market value of the energy, according to BC Hydro’s latest forecasts and the result will be significant losses each year, which will require rate increases (ibid).

 

 

 

Question #3

Should taxpayers and ratepayers be required to foot the bill for infrastructure and subsidize power rates for very lucrative large oil and gas companies?

 

 Background:

  • According to the provincial government, the Site C dam is needed because proposed liquid natural gas (LNG) projects require this energy (Vancouver Sun, Feb.15, 2012). “…we are embarking on the first liquefied natural gas plants in the world powered by clean energy,” Terry Lake (BC Minister of Environment), Times Colonist, September 25, 2012. To provide that energy, BC Hydro will incur further huge losses.
  • “You can’t power up these huge [LNG] facilities without more power, so BC Hydro’s going to have to build Site C – we’re in favour of making that happen,” Christy Clark, Global TV, March 27, 2013
  • “British Columbia’s power would be required to power up the [Enbridge] pipeline, from B.C. Hydro – a Crown corporation,” BC Premier Christy Clark said while speaking to students from University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy,” The Globe and Mail, October 2, 2012. This was not revealed at the environmental assessment hearings on the Enbridge project.
  • BC ratepayers already subsidize hydro rates and will continue to do so – to the tune of $1 billion dollars over the next 4 years.  We know that we can’t produce power anywhere near existing rates and it’s highly unlikely that industries, especially the liquid natural gas industry, can be cost competitive using hydropower over their own gas generated power.

 

Question #4

Shouldn’t the companies/industries be responsible for taking on the costs and risks associated with any electricity for their projects rather than taxpayers? 

 

Background:

  • BC Hydro annual reports show domestic demand for electricity has decreased on average by about 5% since 2008 and could drop significantly more with a good energy conservation program that includes incentives.
  • Recent government announcements have stated that increasing demand for energy from BC Hydro is to come from large LNG and provincial mining projects.
  • SFU economist Marvin Shaffer has pointed out, “BC Hydro will lose tens of millions of dollars per year at each new mine if it provides power to them at the standard industrial rate,” (Van. Sun, June 7, 2012)
  • There is extreme market volatility and uncertainty associated with these types of industries.
  • Currently home and commercial businesses pay double the rate of large industrial projects like mines, mills and energy operations.

 


Question #5

Shouldn’t we bring back the oversight of the independent British Columbia Utilities Commission before we commit at least $7.9 billion from taxpayers for Site C?

 

Background:

  • In 1982, the BC Utilities Commission examined the Site C dam proposal and rejected it as a poor investment for BC taxpayers and ratepayers.
  • The Liberals also prevented public hearings into Hydro’s proposed rate increases (and decided to cap rate increases at significantly reduced rates) all without the oversight of the BCUC.
  • Former BC Premier Gordon Campbell removed oversight of Site C by the BCUC in 2010, thus avoiding a rational review and possible rejection of Site C.
  • There has been no independent, comprehensive economic analysis done for the current Site C proposal.

 

 

Question #6

Wouldn’t it be better to stimulate the economy by spending $8 billion on truly green energy with more long term jobs and cost effectiveness, if indeed there is a proven need for more power in the province?

 

Background:

  • BC has developed little of its alternative energy (geothermal, tidal, wind, solar) power, which is rated as having some of the highest potential in North America.
  • Conservation through retrofitting houses, businesses and industry can save massive amounts of electricity.
  • Alternative energy projects provide a greater number of long term jobs than hydro development.
  • There is an enormous need for education and training in many of the alternative energy areas, for example, plumbers skilled in designing and constructing geo-exchange systems.
  • Wind power have been shown to cost less than 25% of the same amount of new hydro with a smaller amount of land impacted.
  • Alternative energy and conservation projects can be built one house and one business at a time on an ‘as needed’ basis which makes more sense than incurring a huge debt up front for industries with uncertain markets.

 

 


Question #7

Do you support the largest removal of agricultural land in BC history and the loss of potential local food production for northerners forever?

 

Background:

  • The Peace Valley has a unique microclimate that allows for food production in the North. It warms up about a month earlier than the uplands and is capable of producing valuable vegetable crops, even tomatoes and melons.
  • Approximately 16,000 acres of prime agricultural land will be lost if Site C is built; including 6,500 acres of class 1 and 2 farmland, the only prime farmland north of Quesnel.
  • This land would have to be removed from the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) and would be the largest removal a government has ever made from the ALR.
  • Northerners would like to access to locally produced food, just like southerners in BC.
  • Removing such excellent farmland from production would eliminate the potential of a 100-mile diet and its economic benefits for northerners.

 

Question #8

Do you think we should be destroying thousands of acres of boreal forest for the massive Site C Dam?

 

Background:

  • Approximately 15,000 acres of boreal forest will be cleared if Site C is built; impacting wildlife and birds.
  • Heavy oil and gas development has already had drastic cumulative environmental effects in northeastern BC; building the Site C Dam will serve to add to the fragmentation of wildlife habitat in the region.  This has been demonstrated through the research conducted in The Natural Capital Analysis, Phase 1, recently completed by Global Forest Watch and the David Suzuki Foundation.
  • The Peace River Valley is one of the only relatively ‘untouched’ areas left in northeastern BC.  Retaining the valley in its natural state provides protection to wildlife including birthing habitat and wintering grounds.
  • The Peace River Valley is home to over 20 threatened species, including grizzly bears, bull trout and red and blue-listed species like fishers and Northern Myotis bats as well as Canada, Cape May and Bay-breasted Warblers, Yellow Rail and Nelson’s Sparrow. These select migratory birds are considered species at risk.
  • This part of the Peace region is also one of the most important wildlife corridors in the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Corridor Initiative (Y2Y).
  • Loss of migratory Arctic grayling in the Moberly River, migratory bull trout that spawn the Halfway River and the mountain whitefish that rely on Peace River will also occur if Site C is approved.
  • Mercury levels in fish in the reservoir will also rise, as they did in the Williston Reservoir behind the WAC Bennett dam upstream.  This will affect the ability of local people, including First Nations to consume their catches.

 

 

Question #9

Do support going against the wishes of the majority of residents and First Nations in northeastern BC and spending $7.9 Billion of taxpayers’ money to build to Site C?  

 

Background:

  • The majority of people living within the vicinity of the proposed Site C dam are against the project.
  • The Peace River waters and adjoining lands are critical as part of Treaty 8 First Nations’ historical, social, cultural and spiritual identity and provide vital resources to them.
  • In September 2010, 33 First Nations signed a joint declaration in opposition to the Site C dam. Given this strong opposition one might consider the likelihood of extended and expensive legal and court challenges as a real possibility if Site C is approved by government.

 

Question #10

Do you think we should create a geologically unstable reservoir with banks that will erode and slide for decades, just as they do at the Williston Reservoir upstream?

 

Background:

  • A recent geotechnical study stated that “The valley’s steep slopes make it prone to landslides like the one that blocked the river… in 1973”. Local residents are concerned about slope stability, sinkholes and landslides.
  • There have already been 4 major slides as outlined in a BC Hydro report, Peace River Development Site C Project: Review of Upstream Axes.
  • Since the beginning of the century the following significant slides are known to have occurred in  the Site C project area:

•              In the early 1900’s, movement or reactivation of the Cache Creek Slide at Mile 51 (Site C is located at about Mile 39, measured from BC-Alberta border);

•              In 1957, failure of the north bank at Taylor Flats resulting in collapse of the previous highway bridge. The slide occurred in shale;

•              In 1973, the Attachie Slide on the south bank at Mile 62. The slide occurred in the overburden and blocked the river for 10 hours; and,

•              In 1974, failure of the north bank at Mile 31, cutting off the B.C.R. main line.

  • An additional 25,000 acres is within proposed erosion boundaries and will be affected through designation as statutory-right-of-way.  Much of this land is farmland whose potential productive capacity will be inhibited due to the instability and uncertainty of the land base.

 

 


Question #11

Do you think that the proposed Site C Dam project is in the best interests of British Columbians given that the need has yet to be assessed and confirmed by an independent agency?  And, if the need were proven, then shouldn’t a range of alternatives be examined, rather than just focusing on hydropower? 

 

Background:

  • We need to reduce our carbon footprint by using our existing resources more prudently.
  • Hydroelectric dams are not carbon neutral and produce huge volumes of methane gas and other pollutants.
  • In terms of concerns about climate change, dams and their subsequent methane release is a very significant concern that, in the case of Site C, is completely overlooked.
  • “Methane is not only the second most important gas contributing to global climate change but traps heat energy in the atmosphere more effectively than CO2. It is 33 times more potent than CO2 over a 100 year period or 105 times more powerful over a 20 year period. In other words, short term releases of methane can do more damage than CO2 emissions,” The Tyee, Andrew Nikiforuk, Jan 10, 2013.
  • Megadams increase debt, result in double-digit rate increases to residential customers and destroy prime farmland, heritage sites, First Nations’ lands and wildlife habitat.
The above questions and back ground information are also available in PDF form here:  Questions for MLA Candidates Final ALL
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