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LETTER: Handling of Site C dam issue has been a disaster

I commend Premier John Horgan on his government’s response to the COVID crisis. His decisions have been well thought out, and has given the public the sense that things are under control as we move ahead through the pandemic.

I’m sorry to say though, his handling of the Site C dam issue has been a disaster and an unnecessary embarrassment from the word go, and the only way of rectifying that is for the project to be cancelled outright.

But if the project is cancelled, is that a waste of money and a waste of the efforts of those who have built what is there to date? I say no for the following reasons. Apparently, the workers’ housing that has been built was actually needed for the region, so that would be an asset to count against so-called sunk costs. The same could be said of the road upgrading and bridges that have been built. Plus, those workers need not become unemployed as there will be much remediation that will need to be done.

The main benefit of cancellation would be for the natural environment, the vastly underutilized farming potential of this unique region, and not the least, in this the era of reconciliation, the dam is a clear violation of Treaty 8. Not to mention, a lush farming valley is a carbon sink, whereas another huge reservoir will do nothing to absorb carbon. I submit, that if there was a dollar value on those those areas, that it would vastly surpass the costs that have been incurred so far. Instead of short-sightedly forgoing so much acreage of farm potential forever, saving what is there now alone should discount the $6 billion that have been spent so far.

It has been well documented that we don’t need the power from Site C. Whereas, I haven’t heard anybody say that what we really need for the future is less farmland – especially in the north. I would add that if the LNG industry cannot make it without huge government subsidies and free power from a negligible source, then perhaps the development of that as an export industry should be re-thought.

Cancelling this wasteful and ill-conceived mega project to me is the only way forward, for the First Nations of Treaty 8, for the fish, wildlife and plant species, for the existing farmers and ranchers and for future food production potential, and for us as customers of BC Hydro.

Despite whatever positive affirmations the Horgan government has gained from its perceived handling of the pandemic, cancelling Site C is the only way forward to preserve any credibility that it has truly been a good government.

I sincerely hope the premier will make the right decision this time round, and preserve what is left of the beautiful Peace River Valley.

John Hillian

Victoria