Emma Gilchrist's blog

Exclusive New Photos: The B.C. Government's Frantic Push to Get Site C Dam Past 'Point of No Return'

Site C dam construction

Just two years ago only four in 10 British Columbians had even heard of the Site C dam. Now, the project — one of the most expensive and environmentally destructive in B.C.’s history — is making international headlines.

With construction ramping up, the high cost of the Site C dam is becoming more visible, and not just on the landscape.

Residents are being forcibly removed from their land. More than 100 kilometres of river valley — much of it agricultural land — is slated for flooding. Independent review processes, meant to ensure the project serves the public interest, have been circumvented and indigenous rights have been trampled.

Tweet: EXCLUSIVE photos: what working toward #SiteC’s ‘point of no return’ looks like http://bit.ly/2ejaJqk @christyclarkbc #bcpoli #bcelxn17B.C. Premier Christy Clark has vowed to get the $9 billion Site C dam past the “point of no return” before the May 2017 provincial election, despite a torrent of experts questioning the demand for the power.

Aided by permits issued by the Trudeau government, construction on the project is rushing ahead, while First Nations wait on a court ruling that could stop construction.

Thanks to donations from you, our readers, DeSmog Canada was able to send celebrated photographer, Garth Lenz, to the Peace to capture the ongoing construction and the landscapes and lives that stand to be affected by the Site C dam.

While the destruction may alarm some readers, it's worth noting that most of the work so far has been isolated to in and around the site of the proposed dam and more than 80 kilometres of river valley remains untouched at this stage. 

Christy Clark Hopes You’re Not Reading This

It’s 31 degrees outside and I was planning to go to the lake this afternoon — and I’d be willing to hazard a guess that many British Columbians are in the same boat.

Tweet: .@christyclarkbc’s #ClimateActionPlan comes out 6 months late in the summer so no one will notice http://bit.ly/2bktGUS #bcpoli #dogdaysThat’s exactly why B.C. Premier Christy Clark chose tomorrow to release her Climate Action Plan — originally scheduled for release nearly six months ago.

Politicans often “take out the trash” on Fridays during the dog days of summer and this time is no different.

The plan — according to a leak in the Globe and Mail today — will fail to increase the carbon tax or update greenhouse gas reduction targets.

Those were two of the cornerstone recommendations from the province’s own expert committee.

The depths of August on a Friday afternoon is not the time you release a plan that you want a lot of people to pay attention to,” said Josha MacNab, B.C. director for the Pembina Institute.

Trudeau Just Broke His Promise to Canada's First Nations

Caleb Behn

Justin Trudeau’s government has quietly issued its first batch of permits for the Site C dam — allowing construction to move forward on the $8.8 billion BC Hydro project despite ongoing legal challenges by two First Nations.

The federal-provincial review panel’s report on Site C found the 1,100 megawatt dam will result in significant and irreversible adverse impacts on Treaty 8 First Nations.

Caleb Behn, who is from West Moberly First Nation, one of the nations taking the federal government to court, says Trudeau has broken his promise.

It’s 19th century technology being permitted with 19th century thinking and I expected more from the Trudeau government,” he said. “These permits were our last best hope to resolve this.”

These permits suggest very strongly that, at least these ministries, if not Trudeau’s entire cabinet, are unwilling to engage in reconciliation with indigenous peoples. I thought this country could be more.”

‘No Need for Site C’: Review Panel Chair Speaks Out Against Dam in New Video

Harry Swain, Chair of the Site C Joint Review Panel

A new video released today by DeSmog Canada features an exclusive video interview with Harry Swain, chair of the federal-provincial panel tasked with reviewing the controversial Site C dam.

Tweet: EXCLUSIVE video from #SiteC review chair: ‘I think we’re making a big mistake, a very expensive one.’ http://bit.ly/28Mt762 #bcpoliI think we’re making a big mistake, a very expensive one,” Swain says in the video. “Of the $9 billion it will cost, at least $7 billion will never be returned. You and I as rate payers will end up paying $7 billion bucks for something we get nothing for.”

Since 2005, domestic demand for electricity in B.C. has been essentially flat, making it difficult to justify the dam which will flood 107 kilometres of the Peace River and destroy thousands of hectares of prime agricultural land.  

There is no need for Site C,” Swain says. “If there was a need, we could meet it with a variety of other renewable and smaller scale sources.”

‘It’s the Last Place We Have for Our People’: Doig River’s Last Stand Amidst Fracking Boom

Doig River elder Tommy Attachie.

In the heart of one of the continent’s biggest fracking booms stands a place the people of the Doig River First Nation have revered for generations.

Elders remember visiting this ancient spruce forest in northeastern B.C. as children on horseback. There they’d hunt moose, grieve their loved ones, heal their spirits.

So as oil and gas wells began to crop up all over their traditional territory, the elders of Doig River decided to do something to protect their most sacred place.

In 2011, they declared a tribal park called K’ih tsaa?dze, which means “old spruce” in the Dane-za, or Beaver, language.  

B.C. Orders Enbridge to Seek New Environment Certificate for Northern Gateway

Enbridge will have to secure an environmental assessment certificate from the B.C. government if it wants to proceed with its Northern Gateway oil pipeline according to an order issued by B.C.’s Environmental Assessment Office on Friday.
 
Early on in the Northern Gateway process, the B.C. government signed an “equivalency agreement” with the federal government, giving Ottawa the responsibility for the environmental assessment.
 
However, a Supreme Court of B.C. decision this January found that the B.C. government acted improperly and that the province must still make its own decision about issuing an environmental assessment certificate.

In a letter to Enbridge posted last week, B.C.’s Environmental Assessment Office states that it will accept the National Energy Board’s (NEB) joint review panel report as the assessment report, but it will carry out its own consultation with Aboriginal groups — if and when Enbridge indicates it’s ready to proceed (it’s clear Enbridge must make a move here).

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