Artist's rendering shows current proposed design for Site C dam on the Peace River near Fort St. John.

Artist's rendering shows current proposed design for Site C dam on the Peace River near Fort St. John.

NDP protests Site C farmland exemption

Energy Minister Bill Bennett says federal-provincial review of Peace River dam will examine agricultural impact

The B.C. government’s decision to exempt the Site C dam proposal from review by the Agricultural Land Commission is another step backwards for accountability, NDP energy critic John Horgan said Monday.

Energy Minister Bill Bennett notified BC Hydro’s board in a Dec. 11 letter that the 3,800 hectares of fertile land to be flooded for a third dam on the Peace River will not be subject to a second review.

Since the agricultural land reserve was established in the 1970s, the B.C. government has had the option of declaring farmland exemptions if they are deemed in the “provincial interest.”

Horgan said the B.C. Liberal government has a habit of suspending independent oversight of BC Hydro decisions, most recently on the B.C. Utilities Commission’s review of electricity rate increases over the next five years.

“We’ve already seen 28 per cent rate increases coming because of 10 years of mismanagement, and the Clark government is starting off on the wrong foot in my opinion by exempting Site C from the utilities commission, by exempting a rate review from the utilities commission, and now the ALC has also been pulled out,” Horgan said.

Bennett said there is no need to hold duplicate reviews of Site C, which would take a decade and more than $8 billion to construct.

“This is not the government of B.C. doing this panel process,” Bennett told CKNW radio Monday. “These are independent people who are chosen because of their independence and because of their experience. They will determine what the impact is on agriculture and agricultural land.”

The joint federal-provincial environmental assessment of Site C. began in 2011, with public hearings underway this month in the region.

The dam would flood an 83-km stretch of valley bottom between Hudson’s Hope to Fort St. John. It follows the completion of the W.A.C. Bennett dam in 1968 and the Peace Canyon dam in 1980.

BC Hydro estimates demand for electricity in the province will increase 40 per cent in the next 20 years, without the still-undefined demand from liquefied natural gas export development.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chief Joe Alphonse
OP-ED: Williams Lake municipal, regional councils lack awareness on historical trauma

Systemic racism isn’t always obvious to those that are not experiencing it

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
36 new cases of COVID-19, one death in Interior Health

The number of active cases in the region is at 366

The City of Williams Lake is asking for public feedback on whether it should explore the opportunity to host a Greater Metro Hockey League team in Williams Lake. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Williams Lake GMHL expansion questions, concerns, to be discussed later this month

If approved, the team would begin play in the fall of 2021

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

Kelowna General Hospital (File photo)
Second death reported in Kelowna General Hospital COVID-19 outbreak

A total of seven cases have been identified at the hospital: six patients and one staff

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals, NDP sing in harmony on local election reforms

Bill regulates paid canvassers, allows people in condo buildings

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

(File photo)
Kamloops Mountie bitten while arresting woman

The assault on March 1 is the latest in a string of incidents that have left local officers injured

Most Read