The Site C Dam Should Not be Tolerated

Provincial leadership has failed to support sustainability, equality, and conservation

(flickr/DeSmogCanada)

A decision has finally been made about the controversial Site C Dam. The current premier of B.C., John Horgan, announced on Dec. 11 that the project will be going forward.

The Site C Dam received its name as the third site for a major provincial dam—the first site being for the W.A.C. Bennett Dam and the second for the Peace Canyon Dam. The name “Site C” was catchy enough to stick and will now, in the eyes of many, go down in history as a Canadian environmental and political blunder during a pivotal time for global climate change.

The world is looking toward environmental and sustainable options for the future, and Premier Horgan let British Columbians down in failing to represent our commitment to sustainability.

The reasons that Horgan gave for continuing with the project do not have nearly enough weight to balance the negative consequences of the dam being built. He mentioned that it was a “difficult decision” for him to decide to continue its development. Dealing with the aftermath of the previous government’s choice to begin the project is an unfortunate position to be in, but he still squandered his opportunity to take an environmentalist approach to being the leader of the province.

After the announcement was made, both the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association and BC Hydro were obviously pleased. Claims that the dam will reduce climate change and create enough jobs to justify its impact are easily disproved. A simple Google search of the project will bring numerous reports that show the adverse impacts of building the dam. It will flood valuable fertile farmland, destroy Indigenous people’s land and way of life, and drown unique and fragile ecosystems housing at-risk and endangered species—all, ultimately, to create a power source and some temporary jobs.

Sustainability is becoming increasingly important to citizens. On Nov. 27, a report was released from the University of British Columbia that disproved every reason Horgan had for deciding to continue the project. Analysis of possible alternative energy projects in the report showed that they would lead to 22 to 50 per cent more jobs created than Site C will. The report also explained cost-effective methods of electrical energy production with less involved risk, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and less detrimental effects on ecological habitats.

Horgan stated that he could not keep the taxpayers in B.C. on the hook for the $4 billion already sunk into the dam, but to me, money spent is money spent. That money is already gone, so why not invest in a better future for everyone? The initial budget was expected to be around $8 billion, with the updated number at $10.9 billion. The dam is to be completed by 2024, but is apparently behind schedule, and when it’s done, studies have predicted that hydro costs in the Peace River region will soar. Citizens will still have to pay high costs for this project, all while dealing with 5,550 hectares of valuable land being flooded.

Indigenous communities such as Prophet First Nations and Moberly West Nations have said that they will pursue court rulings to stop the construction of the dam. On Nov. 11, Horgan said that said he is “not the first person to stand before you and disappoint Indigenous people” in the past 150 years. This statement could not be more true, and yet, knowing this, he chose not to inspire change or promote equality.

I urge everyone to research the Site C Dam in full, and if you disagree with the Premier’s decision, contact your local governmental representative and have your voice heard. I do not think that the decision to continue Site C has by any means brought an end to the issue, and I really hope that, as a population, we can urge the government to make the most responsible choice.

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