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Site C dam not clean, not green, not economical and not in the public interest, says Council of Canadians

Site c Dam

Victoria — Today, after Premier Christy Clark  announced the approval of the controversial Site C dam, the Council of Canadians expressed its indignation over the B.C. government’s environmental short-sightedness.

BC Hydro would be building its third dam on the Peace River, flooding 5,550 hectares of land over an 83-kilometre stretch of valley.

“The Site C hydroelectric dam is not clean, not green, not economical, and not in the public interest. This project must be opposed if we are to protect freshwater resources, fertile farmlands, food security, and respect Indigenous rights and local communities,” said Leila Darwish, Pacific Regional Organizer with the Council of Canadians. “Communities have said ‘no’ to the Site C dam for over 30 years. The government needs to respect that. From the courts to the streets to the mighty Peace River, the fight continues.”

Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians, is particularly concerned about the decision’s impact on First Nations communities.

“We are deeply disappointed by the B.C. government’s short-sighted decision. We stand in solidarity with Treaty 8 First Nations whose treaty rights will be violated with this project,” says Barlow. “But this affects everyone in the region – farmers, scientists and residents alike.”

Site C would flood 78 First Nations heritage sites, including burial grounds and places of cultural and spiritual significance. It would create the single largest loss of land in the 40-year history of the province’s Agricultural Land Reserve – drowning or severely impacting over 30,000 acres of farming land. The dam will flood 107 square kilometres of valley bottoms and destroy wetlands that support migratory bird flocks. When combined with the rapidly growing industrial footprint in the Peace region, Site C will contribute to the loss of more than half the habitat for sensitive species such as grizzly bears, wolverines and caribou.

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

“Today's decision cements a ‘carbon corridor’ in Western Canada,” says Emma Lui, Water Campaigner with the Council of Canadians. “With fracking projects, LNG terminals and pipeline networks across the province, B.C. is hindering Canada from genuine climate leadership and water stewardship.”

In May, the joint federal-provincial environmental assessment panel made no clear recommendation for or against the project, but did state that the need for the project was not clear, recommended that other alternatives such as geothermal energy be examined, and raised concerns about the economics of the project. There are currently five First Nations and landowner lawsuits against Site C, but BC Hydro is already tendering contracts and wants to have shovels in the ground by January 15 without waiting for the court decisions. 

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For more information, contact: 

Leila Darwish, Pacific Regional Organizer, The Council of Canadians, 778-679-2907, ldarwish@canadians.org

Brigette DePape, Pacific Regional Assistant Organizer, The Council of Canadians, 778-872-1417, bdePape@canadians.org