According to a recent report from the University of British Columbia, “Site C has more significant adverse environmental effects than any project ever reviewed under the history of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, including impacts on dozens of species, aquatics, vegetation, wildlife, Aboriginal use of lands and resources, and cultural heritage.” The British Columbian and Canadian governments are most likely breaking treaty #8, which gave local first nations usage of the land that will be submerged. BC Hydro has not properly evaluated less destructive, and far less expensive, alternatives like geothermal energy. We won’t need the power for decades, if ever. Why do the Liberals push Site C?
British Columbia grows less than half of the fresh produce it needs. Much of what we consume comes from California. The ongoing drought conditions, and a weak loony, have sent vegetable prices spiralling 11.7% this year. Fresh, nutritious fruits and vegetables are becoming an occasional luxury for some middle-low income B.C. families. Though this will only worsen worse as global temperatures continue to rise, the government of BC is far more preoccupied with the get-rich promise of mega-energy projects. Once it is completed, Site C will submerge prime agricultural lands.
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.
The firing of Agricultural Land Commission Chair Richard Bullock has already been called the latest step in the BC Government’s war on agriculture. Though he was appointed by cabinet, Bullock was the head of a supposedly “independent administrative tribunal dedicated to preserving agricultural land and encouraging farming in British Columbia.” He also opposed Bill 24, which weakened protections on 90% of the province’s agricultural land reserve (ALR). There are huge issues with oil and gas underneath some of the agricultural land in the Northeast corner of BC. On April 8, cabinet overrode the ALC to remove 4,000 hectares from the Agricultural Land Reserve in the Peace River Valley, so they could be flooded if/when the Site C Dam is built. Bullock defended agricultural lands against these developments. Yesterday, the government dismissed him in a 30-second phone call.
In addition to being one of the province’s most promising agricultural areas, the Peace River Valley sits on the Montney shale formation and location of the proposed Site C Dam. A Ministry of Agriculture spokesperson recently informed the ECOreport that the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) makes the decisions regarding land zoned for agricultural use . “The ALC is an administrative tribunal – arm’s length from government – and government does not interfere in that independent decision-making process.” He did not mention the fact two weeks prior to our interview, Cabinet Removed Land from ALC for the Site C Dam.