It is not too late to stop the Site C hydroelectric dam on the Peace River in northeastern B.C. says a group presently touring the province.
During a presentation at Thompson Rivers University in Williams Lake last week, Ana Simeon from the Sierra Club B.C., Ben Parfitt with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and Yvonne Tupper, a Treaty 8 land defender, told the 30 people gathered in the room that even though a large amount of land has been cleared as construction for the dam gets underway, no irreversible damage has been done so far.
“They are far from even starting the major work,” Tupper said as she showed some slides of the work presently going on to build a bridge and roads.
Tupper is helping lead the fight to stop the project, she added.
“Our Chief Roland Wilson said publicly this is our last unceded land that we need to protect, and he is so right, because what you don’t see above the ridges on top are the dead oil and gas wells all along here and on both sides,” Tupper said during the slide presentation.
Even the cost of the project should raise concerns, Parfitt said.
An academic scientific study that looked at 61 hydro projects around the world showed that on average dams came in 70 per cent over projected budget, he said.
“If Site C hits the average, then it is not an $8.8 million project, it will be a $15 million dollar project.”
Solar power in the same study came in on average $6 million below projected budget. Site C is the singular most-expensive project in our province’s history, he added.
“BC Hydro itself has said we don’t need the power for 25 to 40 years so we have time to look at alternative energy sources,” Parfitt said.
The Peace River Valley is “generous” land with crops that have yields that are better than the Okanagan and the Fraser Valley, Simeon said.
“The energy for destroying this land comes from the provincial government,” Simeon said, noting she is also critical of Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government for failing to put the project on pause.
It is important to put pressure on the federal government and continue to support organizations that are fighting Site C, Simeon said.
“We need support to take court action to the Supreme Court.”
The lives of dams are limited and people should not expect the energy to be there forever, Parfitt added.
“If you think about a healthy functioning diverse ecosystem, I think what we need is diverse renewable energy,” Parfitt said. “What we are doing in B.C. today is essentially putting all our eggs in one basket.”
The group also gave a presentation in Quesnel while they were in the Cariboo.