The National Farmers Union (NFU) joined the growing list of organizations opposed to BC Hydro’s proposed mega-dam, NFU calls for Moratorium on Site C
The proposed Site C Dam on the Peace River in British Columbia would destroy lands that have provided food and cultural sustenance for First Nations for thousands of years. It would flood over 30,000 acres of fertile land in the Peace River valley, including over 7,000 acres of Class 1 and Class 2 land that is capable of producing an abundance of diverse fruits, vegetables and all kinds of other foods. Its long summer daylight hours combined with rich alluvial soils and the sheltered valley areas provide unique micro-climates and excellent growing conditions.
The Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) is calling for a two-year moratorium on development of the Site C Dam. The Chiefs demand that the proposed project be referred to the BC Utilities Commission for a proper independent review, where testimony is done under oath and evidence can be cross-examined.
NFU calls for Moratorium on Site C
“This beautiful and productive farmland must not be recklessly flooded,” said Jan Slomp, National Farmers Union (NFU) President. “This is why we are standing in solidarity with First Nations and area farmers calling for a two-year moratorium on the Site C dam.”
“It is ludicrous for Canadians to rely increasingly on fruit and vegetable imports from drought-stricken California at a time of mounting climate change and economic volatility, while land that can grow these crops in BC is on the verge of being destroyed,” said Alex Fletcher, Metchosin, BC farmer and NFU Youth President.
ALC No Longer Protects Farmland
Until recently, the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) provided an effective regulatory buffer around farmland, protecting it from zealous industrial, mining and residential development. Now, as a result of the 2014 amendments to the Agricultural Land Commission Act, protection of agricultural land in the Peace region has to compete with industrial resource development interests. The reduced mandate of the ALC compromises its ability to maintain natural resources and long-term food sovereignty in the public interest.
“Farmers are short-changed without an effective regulatory review process,” said NFU member Ruth Veiner, who farms northeast of Dawson Creek. “I certainly want to see agricultural land protected. Our production land is so threatened by industrial expansion that we need to be ever vigilant.”
In addition to legal challenges from the Peace Valley Landowner Association, Treaty 8 First Nations have applied for a judicial review of provincial and federal decisions to support the project, as the site C Dam clearly infringes on Treaty 8 First Nations treaty rights. “It is interesting, to say the least, that farmers in Canada increasingly depend on Canada’s Treaties with First Nations to protect land and the environment from aggressive over-development, endorsed by government,” noted Slomp.
Photo Credit: Peace River produce by Larry Peterson