By Dustin Perry & Feet Banks    Photos: Garth Lenz

Pitting farmers and food security against industry jobs, heritage against so-called clean energy, the
proposed Site C dam may become British Columbia’s most costly environmental battle.

As day breaks and fog peels from the waters of northeastern British Columbia’s Peace River, Ken and Arleen Boon look out over their third-generation farm and wonder how long its productive soils will continue to feed them. With construction already surrounding them, BC Hydro’s Site C hydroelectric dam jeopardizes not only their farm, but some 83 kilometres of this agriculturally important valley. It isn’t the first time the Boons’ land has been threatened: thirty years ago, Arlene’s grandfather chased BC Hydro off with a shotgun in
hand, firmly refusing to sell. Now it’s Groundhog Day: Hydro again wants the Boons out, and they again refuse to leave.

Humans are a pretty diverse and opinionated species, so it’s naïve to expect everyone to agree on an issue as large as an $8.8 billion dam. Proponents shout about jobs in the construction and energy sectors, inflating their case with calls for future energy security and new heavy industry; detractors like the Boons point not only to loss of agricultural land, but indigenous rights, widespread environmental damage, degradation of fish and wildlife habitat, dubious exemptions from regulations, and, perhaps most bafflingly, a demonstrable
lack of need for the project. But as opinions clash and lawsuits fly on the largest megaproject in British Columbia’s long and checkered history of land-changing megaprojects, there’s at least one thing both sides have in common—we’ve all gotta eat…

“Genocide, the physical extinction of a people, is universally condemned, but ethnocide, the destruction of people’s way of life, is not only not condemned, it’s universally celebrated as part of a development strategy.” —Canadian anthropologist, author and explorer, Wade Davis

Read full article, including beautiful photos of the valley and the people who live in it here: