In addition to the obvious beauty of the Peace River Valley, it is a very important valley both for wildlife habitat and for agricultural potential.
The Peace Break region of the Yellowstone to Yukon (Y2Y) corridor encompasses the Peace River Valley. It is a critical area in the Yellowstone to Yukon network as it is the pinch point, the narrowest part of the corridor. It is of utmost importance that this corridor is preserved to maintain connectivity between the northern and southern protected areas. This connectivity is essential to maintain biodiversity and to keep the wildlife populations strong. As the climate changes, this corridor will become even more important as wildlife migrates to more northerly latitudes.
The Peace River Valley, including what is now the Williston Reservior, is the only river valley that breaches the Rocky Mountains, providing a very important East-West corridor. As a result, it is characterized by a very unique, warmer microclimate with huge agricultural potential. In fact, the Peace River Valley has the only class 1 soils north of Quesnel. Class 1 soils are the highest rated soils, with no constraints to agriculture. This prime agricultural land gives the Peace River Valley the capacity to ensure food security for the North in the future.
The Peace Valley Environment Association (PVEA) believes that the Peace River and its valley should be designated for agriculture, recreation and wildlife. Its culture, heritage and history should be acknowledged and celebrated. All of these values are threatened by the proposed Site C dam.
Letter to Northeast News from PVEA director Ken Forest
What is the future of food sustainability in the Peace?
By NorthEast News on January 11, 2016
Letters to the EditorThis past month, BC supermarkets saw prices of five dollars for broccoli and seven dollars for cauliflower and asparagus. Those prices are a part of a 3% rise, in the past month and 15% rise over the year. Expect to pay many times more for these items over the next decades, that is, if you can get them.
We import 67% of our market garden produce from at least 3000 km distance. Tomatoes, broccoli cucumbers and corn can be grown on only a fraction of BC’s 5% agricultural land base. We need to preserve what we have. The Frazer valley and the Peace valley are BC’s two major areas with the potential to produce commercial market garden food. The Okanogan does not have the land base or soil to support large market gardens.
Most crops grown in the Peace valley are hay or grains. Farmers will not take on the startup costs of market gardens as long as the threat of Site C dam exists. If Site C is built, it will eliminate forever, 7,500 acres of class 1&2 farmland (near 20% of the best land in BC). All of the class 1-3 soil in the Peace valley would be flooded, leaving a dead valley, forever.
Unlike our upper bench lands, which only produce grains, the Peace valley has an east-west orientation, deep, heat-retaining bottomland, increasing frost-free days, long summer light and access to water, making it ideal for vegetables. It is capable of supplying food for up to one million people, every year. Last summer, Bear Flats in the Peace valley, saw watermelon, cantaloupe, tomatoes, cabbage and corn, in abundance, grown in the open, in class 1&2 soil.
Regardless of any ability to pay, importing food from California over the long term will be unlikely, if not impossible. Climate change’s, century-long forecast for the central valley is for a sustained and worsening mega-drought with little winter snow; a poor bet for future imports. Not helping is the fact that one third of the world’s cropland is degraded and more than nine billion people will be demanding food by 2050.
The 25 actual jobs created by Site C does not compare to the hundreds of jobs and the potential multi-million dollar local market garden agri-business for the valley. BC is currently in electrical power surplus. It has the capacity to create more energy and jobs from upcoming renewable sources. Spending $9 billion to flood farmland for a dam lasting only seventy-five years to power LNG plants is not conscionable. Rather, we will need our own food capacity.
Vote when you can, for long-term sustainable food security for our communities and kids.
Ken Forest, Charlie Lake Resident.