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 7:00 a.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

BC Housing has brought in sanitation trailers to the former Mount Tolmie Hospital site so its current residents can access clean water, showers, sinks and toilets after a collapsed sewer pipe impacted water service to the building. (Google Streetview)
Mount Tolmie Hospital homelessness shelter using sanitation trailers after pipe collapse

Travelodge shelter residents faced intermittent hot water supply in late May, early June

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. The website for a Broadway theatre showing "Springsteen on Broadway" said it would only allow guests "fully vaccinated with an FDA-approved vaccine" — Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
No Springsteen for you: AstraZeneca not good enough to qualify for Broadway ticket

View Royal mayor among those unable to attend New York entertainment due to COVID-19 restriction

The BC Ferries’ website is down for the second time in one week from what they say is likely an overwhelming increase in web traffic. (Black Press Media file photo)
Surging web traffic crashes BC Ferries’ site again

Website down for second time this week

Numerous Esquimalt residents can now build a detached accessory suite of up to 65 square metres in their backyard. (Township of Esquimalt)
Backyard suites now legal for some Esquimalt properties

One unit of up to 65 square metres now permitted for eligible residents

Stanley Fischer, right, died while in a Victoria police jail cell hours after he was arrested on Nov. 15, 1981. (Photo courtesy of Mark Fischer)
Victoria police not reopening investigation into man’s 1981 death while in custody

Stanley Fischer’s death was ruled a suicide after he was found in his jail cell

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: When was the last time you visited the mainland?

The films are again lighting the screens at local theatres, the wine… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of June 15

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

The remains of the Mid-Island Co-op in Whiskey Creek along the Alberni Highway on Friday, June 18, after a blaze the day before devastated the gas station. (Michael Briones photo)
VIDEO: Camper van explosion burns Vancouver Island gas station to the ground

Nine fire departments responded to the incident, no injuries reported

The Montreal Police logo is seen in Montreal on Wednesday, July 8, 2020. Some Quebec politicians are calling for an investigation after a video was released that appears to show a Montreal police officer with his leg on a young Black man’s neck during an arrest. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Probe called for after video appearing to show Montreal officer’s knee on Black youth’s neck

Politicians call for investigation after clip evokes memories of George Floyd incident

John Furlong told the Vancouver Board of Trade on Feb. 20, 2020 that he thinks the city could and should bid for the 2030 Winter Games. (CP photo)
PODCAST: John Furlong lays out a ‘provincial’ B.C. plan to host the 2030 Winter Olympics

Podcast: Chat includes potential role for Vancouver Island communities

The pilot of this single-engine propeller plane was unhurt after crash-landing in a Como Road orchard Friday, June 18. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Plane crash lands into Grand Forks orchard, pilot injured

RCMP have secured the crash site, pending investigation by Transport Canada

Lake Country firefighters made good use of pet respirators they keep on board June 17, 2021. (District of Lake Country)
PHOTOS: 11 dogs rescued, home destroyed in large blaze in Okanagan

Home deemed a total loss, cause remains unknown but crews thankful for pet respirators

A tenant walks in front of her home on Boundary Road on Friday, June 18, 2021 after it was destroyed by fire the night before in Chilliwack. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Family homeless after fire rips through Chilliwack house

Turtle rescued, no one seriously hurt following Boundary Road fire in Chilliwack

Most Read