COLUMN: Site C Dam will destroy pristine Peace River Valley

The 100 feet of water would also cover traditional lands and sacred sites of various First Nations bands.

Jo Phillips

Guest Comment

Having heard many tales of its natural beauty and fecund farmland, I have always wanted to see the Peace River Valley for myself.

So last July, my partner George and I did a road trip of more than 1,200 kilometres to a spot just past Hudson’s Hope, B.C. to participate in the 10th annual Paddle for the Peace.

The “Paddle” is a two-hour celebration by canoe (or any other paddleable boat) of that section of the Peace River that would be under 100 feet of water if the province of B.C. persists with its plan to build the Site C dam.

From the people who spoke to the crowd of 1,000 after the paddle, including several local and provincial native leaders, a former head of the B.C. ALR and Dr. David Suzuki, I learned that the section of the Peace River Valley that is slated to be drowned is not only prime alluvial soil-rich agricultural land (13,000 acres or 83 kms. of land would be impacted by the dam, enough to feed 1 million people), but it also is an important wildlife corridor.  It is a grizzly crossing, ungulates use the big islands in the middle of the river to calve every spring, fish migrate up the river and there are 38 eagle nests in trees destined to be chopped down along the banks of just the few kilometers we traversed.

The dam would also impact the Athabasca delta downstream, a designated UNESCO heritage site crucial for migratory wildlife and birds.

The 100 feet of water would also cover traditional lands and sacred sites of the West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations and the McLeod Lake Indian Band, none of which have given their approval of the proposed dam.

When I mentioned to family and friends that I was headed to the paddle, several asked me “but don’t you use electricity?” To that important question

I can only say that the recommendation of the Joint Review Panel was that because the province had not demonstrated that there is an actual need for the extra electricity and because of the projected cost (at $8.8 billion it is the most expensive project in B.C. history) they could not recommend  the project.

And I learned that there are many less destructive and less expensive ways to generate electricity if a need should arise, such as geothermal or a smaller dam in a much less damaging locale.

The Peace River Valley lived up to my expectations and still fits the description Sir Alexander MacKenzie.gave over 200 years ago. Hopefully it will be inspiring travellers and inhabitants alike 200 years from now.

•••

Jo Phillips is a Sooke resident.

 

Just Posted

UPDATE: Tsunami warning ended for Greater Victoria

Homes in Colwood near Esquimalt Lagoon were evacuated after tsunami warning for coastal areas of B.C. after 7.9 earthquake off Alaskan coast

Greater Victoria under another wind warning this morning

Strong southeast winds will reach speeds of up to 80 km/h in Greater Victoria

UPDATE: Tsunami warning cancelled for coastal British Columbia

Warning issued following 7.9 earthquake off Kodiak, AK

Tsunami warning issued for Coastal B.C.

It is recommended that individuals residing below 20 metres should move to higher ground.

Federal, provincial ministers in Victoria to announce clean tech funding

Collaboration will invest $785,000 into start-ups, including Victoria-based Alacrity Canada

Testing the Google Arts & Culture app

Going face to face with art

‘Shape of Water’ producer, Christopher Plummer among Canadian Oscar nominees

Guillermo del Toro film about merman romance earns 13 nominations

Canada, TPP agrees to revised deal without the United States

Canada and the remaining members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership have agreed to a revised trade agreement

Tsunami warnings 101: Canada

Here are some things to know about tsunami alerts in Canada and how they work

Rogers Media cuts ties with Vice Canada

Rogers Media and Vice Canada are ending their three-year-old partnership, pulling Viceland TV channel off the air

Tsunami warning prompts evacuations in Port Alberni

Alaska earthquake prompted warning for coastal BC

VIDEO: Fuel truck and train collide in B.C. causing massive fire

More emergency crews are still arriving on scene of a massive fire at the Port Coquitlam rail yard.

Back to work: U.S. government shutdown ends after Democrats relent

Short-term spending measure means both sides could see another shutdown stalemate in three weeks

Most Read