Site C dam report makes 50 recommendations

Site C dam report says benefits of project are clear, but no yes or no answer

  • May. 8, 2014 6:00 p.m.

By Dene Moore, The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER – An $8-billion hydroelectric dam proposed by British Columbia’s Crown utility would cause significant adverse effects on the environment and wildlife, as well as aboriginals, farmers and other users of the Peace River valley, says a report by the joint review panel weighing the project.

And BC Hydro has not demonstrated the need for the Site C dam in northeastern B.C. on the timetable it set out, said the panel appointed by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.

But the benefits are clear and the alternatives, few, the panel said in a 471-page report made public on Thursday.

“Site C is not an ordinary project. At $7.9 billion, it might be the largest provincial public expenditure of the next 20 years,” it said.

The panel gave no clear yes or no answer, but said B.C. will need new energy and new capacity at some point. The dam on the Peace River would provide a large amount of inexpensive power, low in greenhouse gas emissions, it said.

“Site C would seem cheap, one day,” the report said. “But the project would be accompanied by significant environmental and social costs, and the costs would not have to be endured by those who benefit.

“These losses will be borne by the people of the (Peace River Valley), some of whom say that there is no possible compensation.”

Among the recommendations, the panel said the dam proposal should be referred to the B.C. Utilities Commission for a detailed examination of project costs. The provincial government had exempted the project from review by the independent regulator, which rejected a previous incarnation.

“We’re pleased that the panel has confirmed that there will be a long-term need for the new energy and capacity that the Site C project would provide,” said Dave Conway, spokesman for BC Hydro.

“I think it’s a signal that, generally, the panel has agreed with the work that we have done to date, our suggested mitigation plans and the investigation work, and have added to that with their recommendations.”

The report was delivered earlier this week to the federal environment minister and the head of the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office. Both governments have six months to make a final decision.

The dam would be the third on the Peace River. It would create a 9,330-hectare reservoir along 83 kilometres of the river, flooding about 5,550 hectares of land.

The dam would generate an estimated 1,100 megawatts of capacity — or enough to power the equivalent of 450,000 homes a year.

Faisal Moola, from the David Suzuki Foundation, said the panel recognized the cumulative impact of resource development in the region.

“Our research shows a perfect storm of industrial activities and this massive hydro project may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back,” he said in a statement.

The river already has two huge dams — the WAC Bennett and the Peace Canyon. The region has 16,267 oil and gas well sites and 8,517 petroleum and natural gas facilities. It would also be the heart of the province’s liquefied natural gas industry.

“We hope that government takes cumulative impacts into account when it decides whether to proceed with this project,” Moola said.

Treaty 8 Tribal Chief Liz Logan said she felt the panel heard the concerns of area First Nations.

“It’s not necessarily a clear yes or a clear no, but we’re happy that they did say there were significant impacts to our way of life,” Logan said.

“That opens the door for us to continue to push the alternatives…. Let’s look at natural gas. Let’s look at wind. Let’s look a geothermal.”

Chief Marvin Yahey of the Blueberry River First Nations said the Crown must address the “serious issues” addressed in the report before proceeding with the dam.

“The joint review panel’s Report confirms what our people are experiencing every day: the cumulative effects of resource development are placing enormous stress on our lands,” said Yahey.

“The dam, combined with past, present and future development, would mean even more harm to the lands and waters on which our treaty rights depend.”

Andrew Weaver, a climate scientist and Green member of the B.C. legislature, said there are shortcomings in the province’s overall energy policy.

“As the report clearly stated, geothermal and other renewable sources should be explored,” Weaver said. “This approach would be less damaging to the environment and, distributed around B.C.”

Provincial Energy Minister Bill Bennett said, if approved, construction could begin in January 2015. The completion date would be 2024.

“Site C is not about providing power tomorrow or the next day or the next year or the year after that,” he said.

“We don’t need the electricity today, tomorrow or the next year or five years from now. But we’re pretty darn sure we’re going to need it 10 years from now when the project, if it’s approved, would be available to us.”

Just Posted

The Binche Fishing Derby at Stuart Lake is fast approaching. (Binche Fishing Derby Facebook photo)
Binche shares excitement for upcoming fishing derby

“It’s more than just fishing,” says Dave Birdi

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
Local youth vaccination clinics underway

Pfizer vaccine will be used

Priya Sharma. (Submitted)
Column: Why ultimatums don’t work

By Priya Sharma It is a common misconception that people can choose… Continue reading

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Most Read