Don’t barge ahead on dam

Columnist Diana French weighs in on the Site C Dam on the Peace River.

For unemployed workers, the long-term impacts of any job are not high on their worry list. If the kids need shoes, and the mortgage payment is due, that comes first. Besides, all those government bureaucracies will make sure everything is Done Right. Right?

Well probably not. In her recent report, “Managing the Cumulative Effects of Natural Resource Development in BC,” Auditor General Carol Bellringer says our provincial government has not “adequately addressed” the long-term environmental impact of its resource-development decisions. Those decisions are being made without understanding all the environmental, social and cultural consequences. The Ministry of Everything ( Forests, Lands and Natural Resources) is working on a “cumulative affects management” plan but it won’t be fully implemented until 2021. In the meantime we’re fracking and flooding, digging things up and cutting them down at a great rate.

The proposed Site C Dam on the Peace River is one example of barging ahead regardless of the consequences. In spite of facing seven court challenges and cries of outrage from all directions, the government expects $8.8 billion construction of the dam to begin this the summer.

This column isn’t long enough to list all the problems associated with the dam, but having no independent examination of the cost or even the need for the project was not a good start. Exempting it from BC Utilities Commission review was bad enough but then the province pulled 5,5000 hectares of prime farmland out of the ALR with no input or discussion from anyone.

The dam’s 125 square km reservoir will have “adverse impacts” (to put it mildly) on the land, people, and wildlife and ecosystems. Heritage Canada has classified the Peace River as one of the most endangered places in the country.

So why is the government so hell bent on building the dam without even looking at alternatives? I guess because it can.

PS Bellringer seems an appropriate name for an auditor general.

Diana French is a freelance columnist for the Tribune. She is a former Tribune editor, retired teacher, historian, and book author.

 

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