A double standard

Growing up on farmlands in the northern Prairies, I am naturally drawn to the wildlife, food and visual values of agricultural lands.

Growing up on farmlands in the northern Prairies, I am naturally drawn to the wildlife, food and visual values of agricultural lands.

That background, coupled with the fact that I have lived in both Fort St. John and Williams Lake, has put me in the unique position of witnessing not one, but now two, Federal Review Panels for proposed development.

Of course, this area is anxiously awaiting the decision of the federal government regarding New Prosperity.

In our case, the panel ruled the proposed New Prosperity Gold-Copper Mine would result in “significant adverse environmental effects.” The proposed mine is in a relatively remote area that would have a footprint of approximately 27 square kilometres which would impact Fish Lake and opposed local First Nations, according to the panel.

Up north another Federal Review Panel is looking at the proposal by B.C. Hydro to build the Site C dam on the Peace River.

Described as the “mighty” Peace River by explorer Alexander Mackenzie, who paddled its waters in the late 1700s, today the Peace River cuts a scenic path through a fertile valley from Hudson’s Hope to Fort. St. John and beyond.

The valley is home to historical farms as well as an abundance of wildlife that traverses the valley and river throughout the year.

Dinosaur bones have also been found in the region, and are on display at two other dams (the W.A.C. Bennett dam built in 1968 and the Peace Canyon dam in 1980) located at the headwaters of the Peace.

For years farmers in the path of the proposed Site C dam, as well as environmentalists and area First Nations, have opposed the project, which would see 3,800 hectares of fertile farmland and more than 83 kilometres of valley bottom flooded for the sake of future power needs.

In a move to handicap the affected farmers in the process, the B.C. government decided last week to exempt the Site C dam proposal from review by the Agricultural Land Commission.

This means the government, or more specifically Energy Minister Bill Bennett, invoked the provincial government’s option of declaring farmland exemptions if they are deemed in the “provincial interest.”

What is more remarkable than just the government working the system for its own benefit, which seems to be expected, is the fact that we as a society are prepared to further impact the environment for more power when with new technologies we should be leaving less of a footprint — at least a footprint smaller than 85 kilometres.

– Angie Mindus, Williams Lake Tribune



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