It is expected that the Stephen Harper and Christy Clark governments will decide on October 22 if the proposed Site C dam in British Columbia will be granted environmental approval. Following that, the Clark government has promised it would decide on the financing of the $7.9 billion mega-project in November. If approved, preparatory work could begin in early 2015 and the dam could begin generating electricity in 2021.
Site C is a proposed 60-metre high, 1,050-metre-long earth-filled dam and hydroelectric generation station that would be located on the Peace River between the communities of Hudson’s Hope and Taylor in northeastern British Columbia. It would create an 83-kilometre-long reservoir and flood about 5,550 hectares of agricultural land southwest of Fort St. John. It would submerge 78 First Nations heritage sites, including burial grounds and places of cultural and spiritual significance.
A spokesperson for BC Hydro has said the power from the dam is necessary given expectations for major growth in the liquefied natural gas, mining and forestry sectors in the province as well as population growth. This past May a joint federal-provincial review panel that studied the dam proposal concluded, “B.C. will need new energy and new capacity at some point [but] the proponent has not fully demonstrated the need for the project on the timetable set forth.”
The dam is opposed by twenty-three First Nations across B.C., Alberta, and the Northwest Territories. Three years ago five First Nations asked the United Nations to defend their rights under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples against this project. Treaty 8 First Nations, including the West Moberly First Nation, have Title to the Peace River Valley (it is the traditional territory of the Dane-zaa) and the recent Supreme Court of Canada decision on the Tsilhqot’in Title case means their consent for this project is needed.
The Council of Canadians opposes the dam and stands in solidarity with the First Nations and frontline communities opposed to this destructive project.
Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow has written about the damage caused by the thousands of large dams (higher than 15 meters) that have been built around the world. She highlights that they harm Indigenous peoples and displace communities; they disrupt rivers and aquatic life; they can lead to the evaporation of huge amounts of water; they contribute to the bioaccumulation of mercury in fish; and that they are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions.
It has been estimated that Site C would emit 150,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year, the equivalent of adding 27,000 cars on the road.
Vancouver-based Council of Canadians organizer Leila Darwish has commented, “When it comes to the Site C hydroelectric dam, the high costs outweigh any potential benefits. The project must be rejected if we are to protect freshwater resources, fertile farmlands, food security, and respect Indigenous rights and local communities. The Site C hydroelectric dam is not clean, not green, not economical and definitely not in the best interests of British Columbia.”
Please join us in saying no to this dam through our Stop the Site C dam action alert.
Dam Truths: A compilation of case studies about popular struggles against dams (a March 2012 Blue Planet Project report)