Council of Canadians calls on the B.C. Utilities Commission to reject the Site C dam

Bulldozer plowing gravel and dirt from a Peace River island into the river. Site C construction site, June 2015. Photo by Garth Lenz.

On August 2, the British Columbia government asked the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) to review the Site C project and recommend either continuing construction on the dam, pausing it, or scrapping it. The deadline for public comment was yesterday (October 11). The Commission's report is expected on November 1. The following is a letter submitted by The Council of Canadians to the BCUC:

From: Brent Patterson
Sent: October 11, 2017
To: sitecsubmission@bcuc.com
Subject: Council of Canadians submission on the Site C dam

The Council of Canadians is opposed to the Site C dam for the following ten reasons:

1- The dam is being constructed on Treaty 8 territory without their free, prior and informed consent as recognized in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

2- The dam would flood about 5,550 hectares of land and submerge 78 First Nations heritage sites, including burial grounds and places of cultural and spiritual significance.

3- The Globe and Mail has reported, "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."

4- The May 2014 joint federal-provincial review panel report stated, “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."

5- The Vancouver Sun has reported, "BC Hydro is in trouble with enforcement officials yet again, after sediment from construction of [the] 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'."

6- It would add 150,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions to B.C.’s carbon footprint each year, the equivalent of putting 27,000 additional cars on the road.

7- The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has issued a warning about the impact of the dam on the Peace–Athabasca Delta and Wood Buffalo National Park, a world heritage site.

8- Author Wendy Holm has argued, "The Site C Dam is exactly where it needs to be to deliver continental water sharing plans", in other words, bulk water exports to the United States.

9- The $9 billion price tag for the dam is excessive and likely to rise even higher should construction continue.

10- The Harper government acknowledged in October 2014 that the project "is likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects" and Chief Willson has stated, "The era of destroying rivers should be over."

We call on the British Columbia Utilities Commission to recommend that the Site C dam project be terminated.

We look forward to seeing this recommendation in your final report on November 1.

Brent Patterson
The Council of Canadians
Ottawa