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“Uneconomic” Site C dam violates Fisheries Act, would mean road construction over graves

The Site C dam is becoming a key issue in the May 9 provincial election in British Columbia.

The Globe and Mail reports, “[Liberal premier Christy Clark] said only her party would complete the dam. …[NDP leader John Horgan says] an NDP government would refer Site C to the B.C. Utilities Commission for an assessment and refused to say if the megaproject is too far advanced in construction to be halted. …The Green Party has said it would kill the project if given a chance.”

A projection says the NDP has a 75.6 per cent chance of winning the election, while the governing Liberal party has a 24.2 per cent chance of winning.

The article adds, “Construction began two years ago and Ms. Clark had vowed to get the project ‘past the point of no return’ before the election. However, during her campaign visit to the province’s northeast, the Liberal Leader warned it was still possible for a future government to kill the project.”

And the article highlights, “Local First Nations have been among the fiercest critics of Site C because they say the valley that will eventually be flooded is an important part of their traditional territories. Chief Roland Willson of the West Moberly First Nations said that in addition to the flooding, BC Hydro has refused to listen to appeals to avoid an ancient grave site and a traditional gathering site in its road construction plans.”

In addition, a paper by the University of British Columbia’s Program on Water Governance to be released today calls the business case for Site C “uneconomic” and suggests the project should be put on hold.

Furthermore, the Vancouver Sun reports, “BC Hydro is in trouble with enforcement officials yet again, after sediment from construction of the $9-billion Site C dam was deemed a threat to fish stocks in the Peace River system. …Federal documents indicate sediment problems affecting three locations at Site C, noting that ‘any erosion and sediment mitigation measures in place were not effective in preventing sediment-laden water from entering fish-bearing waters’.”

The article adds, “The project has also repeatedly incurred the ire of compliance and enforcement staff with the provincial Environmental Assessment Office. Postmedia News reported in December 2016 that environmental compliance on construction has been so poor that repeated and ongoing violations related to sediment control and erosion have harmed water quality and fish habitat, based on provincial inspection documents. ‘Continued non-compliance with these requirements has caused adverse effects to water quality and fish habitat as a result of the transport of sediments’ to the Peace and Moberly river systems, the Environmental Assessment Office concluded.”

Site C is a proposed 60-metre high, 1,050-metre-long earth-filled dam and hydroelectric generation station on the Peace River between the communities of Hudson’s Hope and Taylor on Treaty 8 territory 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 also submerge 78 First Nations heritage sites, including burial grounds and places of cultural and spiritual significance.

Logging and land clearing for the dam began in the summer of 2015. This past summer, the Trudeau government granted a Navigation Protection Act permit and Fisheries Act permit for the construction of the Site C dam despite ongoing legal challenges against it by the West Moberly First Nations and Prophet River First Nation. To date, 980 hectares of land has been cleared and eight million cubic metres of earth have been moved for the dam. The dam is scheduled to be operational in 2024.

The Council of Canadians first spoke against the Site C dam in October 2014.

#NoSiteC #EveryLakeEveryRiver