By Roy L Hales
According to a press release from the Wilderness Committee, the Union of BC municipalities (UBCM) has passed resolutions calling for the province to rescind the Order in Council that excluded Site C dam reservoir lands from the Agricultural Land Reserve and refer the project to the BC Utilities Commission. Both resolutions pertain to actions Premier Christy Clark’s government undertook to bypass supposedly independent provincial agencies. While neither are legally binding, UBCM told the Province to Stand Down over Site C.
Back To The BC Utilities Commission
Clark’s government is believed to have bypassed a review by the BC Utilities Commission because it turned the project down when it was originally proposed 35 year ago.
They also ignored the recommendation of their own joint review panel, which predicted the the Site C dam would lose at least $800 million because BC Hydro would generate more power than the province needs.
In response, the City of Victoria brought forward a motion at the UBCM meeting that:
WHEREAS the proposed Site C hydroelectric dam project on the Peace River has raised issues including the potential impact on BC Hydro ratepayers and provincial taxpayers, as well as the potential impacts on agricultural, environmental, aboriginal and municipal interests;
AND WHEREAS the District of Hudson’s Hope and Peace River Regional District have requested a proper review of the project before any construction or development activities proceed:
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that UBCM request that the Province of British Columbia refer the proposed Site C hydroelectric dam project to the BC Utilities Commission for review and consultation prior to any construction and development activities proceeding.
Back To The Agricultural Land Commission
Clark’s cabinet also bypassed the province’s Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) by removing close to 4000 hectares from the Agricultural Land Reserve so that they could be flooded by the Site C Dam. While such Orders in Council are not totally unheard of, there has only been one other known example from this century.
The provincial government followed this action up by firing the ALC Chair, Richard Bullock.
Peace River brought forward the resolution that:
WHEREAS the Cabinet Order in Council No. 148 excluding land within the Site C reservoir is the largest exclusion in the 43-year history of the Agricultural Land Reserve;
AND WHEREAS historically, there have been other Cabinet Orders for exclusion which were subject to much more public input both for and against prior to a decision being made;
AND WHEREAS this decision was made without public input or application:
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Province of BC be requested to rescind Order in Council No. 148 until there has been adequate public input and respect shown for the legal requirements required to apply for removal of lands from the Agricultural Land Reserve.
Both Resolutions Passed
According to the Wilderness Committee, both resolutions passed.
This is in face of Premier Clark’s address to the UBCM, in which she claimed the project will bring 10,000 jobs. Clark is also said to have chided municipal leaders who did not support the project for not providing real leadership.
“We are very happy to hear that that the UBCM will be calling for work on Site C to stop until there’s a proper review by the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC) and the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC),” said Joe Foy, National Campaign Director with the Wilderness Committee.
Despite this good news, he relayed news that “clearcutting of an island at the confluence of the Peace River and Moberly River is set to begin any moment.”
Top Photo Credit: Official opening of the Agriculture Centre of Excellence ACE as part of the University of the Fraser Valley’s 40th birthday celebrations in Chilliwack with BC Premier Kristy Clark in attendance. Rick Collins Photographer – UFV (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)