SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association) B.C. has approved the $8 billion Site C dam — a massive hydroelectric project that would flood a large area of the Peace River Valley in northeastern B.C.
n making the announcement, Premier Christy Clark said the Site C Clean Energy Project will provide B.C. residents with a reliable source of power for the next 100 years for the least cost to the taxpayer.
“Affordable, reliable, clean electricity is the backbone of British Columbia’s economy,” said Clark. “Site C will support our quality of life for decades to come and will enable continued investment and a growing economy.”
Energy Minister Bill Bennett said B.C.’s electricity rates are the third lowest in North America and the fourth lowest for commercial and industrial users.
But he said B.C.’s population is expected to increase by more than one million people and the province’s electricity demand will grow by 40 per cent over the next 20 years
Even though Site C itself will only generate eight per cent of B.C.’s total electricity needs, Bennett said it is a vital part of the overall electricity plan.
He said no one knows what the cost of coal or natural gas will be over the next 20 years and hydroelectric power has the advantage of being relatively clean.
First Nations opposed
Treaty 8 First Nations, many of whom were severely affected by the W.A.C Bennett dam when it was built, say they will fight construction of the Site C project.
The $8 billion hydroelectric project would dramatically alter a large area of northeastern B.C. by putting it under water.
West Moberly First Nation Chief Roland Willson said his band is not opposed to resource development, but his people don’t want to see the flooding of this land, which has many sacred sites on it.
“We said no to the destruction of that valley … it’s the last chunk of valley that we have and it’s vitally important,” he said. “We have to make a decision here that will have implications for many, many decades.”
Located seven kilometres southwest of Fort St. John, B.C., Site C would flood more than 5,500 hectares of land over an 83-kilometre stretch of valley. BC Hydro said Site C would generate an estimated 1,100 megawatts of capacity, or enough to power the equivalent of 450,000 homes a year.
Last May, a joint federal-provincial environmental assessment panel made no clear recommendation for or against the project.
In October the federal and provincial governments both grantedenvironmental approval for the project.
But First Nations and environmental groups say they will fight the proposal in the courts and through public protests.
“They have no respect for the treaty and they have no respect for the First Nations,” Willson said. “All they care about is their bottom dollar.”
The project is also being challenged by landowners in the courts.