Rolling hills, sparkling water, abundant wildlife, rich farmland.
This is what British Columbia is choosing to soon destroy forever – at a time when the province’s natural habitat is already under more threat than ever before.
On July 29, BC Hydro issued a news release announcing it has awarded a contract for preparation activities on the north bank of the Site C dam site. This work will include: • excavating two million cubic metres of “material,” • producing and stockpiling 100,000 cubic metres of aggregate material for use by other contractors at the dam site; and • clearing 55 hectares.
It states the work is expected to begin early this month and be complete by the end of June 2016.
The Site C dam has been on the province’s books for about 50 years. It was turned down in 1982 by the then still-effective BC Utilities Commission, primarily because BC Hydro had not demonstrated an absolute need for the power. It was suggested the Crown corporation explore geothermal. And, of course, there are several other alternatives to this archaic method of mass drowning.
The proposed 60-metre-high dam will flood 5,550 hectares of land – which has been described as the equivalent of 14 Stanley Parks – and more than 100 kilometres of river valley. This will include the loss of nearly 3,500 hectares of Class 1 through 3 agricultural land, 1,300 hectares of which are considered as having high agricultural value.
Construction will cost taxpayers $8.8 billion. That’s billion.
It is predicted to contribute to the loss of more than 50 per cent of habitat for species such as caribou, grizzly and wolverine. The area is part of the Yellowstone to Yukon wildlife corridor. The dam could sever the route at its narrowest part and fracture wildlife populations.
Like the populations of animals, fish and birds which are an integral and crucial part of the province’s ecosystems, the First Nations who have also inhabited the land for thousands of years have been given little or no consideration. The proposed dam makes a mockery of the way the provincial and federal governments have paid lip service to First Nations of late, pledging adequate consultation and other niceties. Once again First Nations must resort to legal challenges to preserve their territory, even when under treaty, as they have been forced to do in this case.
The land is the traditional territory of the Treaty 8 First Nations. Chief Rolland Wilson of the West Moberly First Nations sums up Site C by saying it makes no economic sense, no environmental sense and no legal sense.
While the province calls this project a “clean-energy” project, it is anything but “clean” when it will leave behind such a dirty history and aftermath.
The citizens of this province are not powerless. This project does not, indeed, make economic, environmental or legal sense. But, perhaps more importantly, it is morally wrong.
It’s time to say enough is enough – and to say it quickly.