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

Processed sewage is still being deposited at the Hartland landfill rather than sent as biosolids to a Richmond cement plant. (Black Press Media file photo)
Biosolids at Hartland still being placed on landfill in Saanich

Richmond cement plant up and running, but CRD end product not suitable for purpose

An SUV sits where it crashed through the front window of the 2:18 Run store in Fairfield Plaza, after the driver appeared to lose control on Monday afternoon. (Photo by Phil Nicholls)
Driver crashes through front window of Victoria running store in Fairfield

Phil Nicholls of 2:18 Run said crash sounded like an earthquake at first

Seismic upgrading and expansion work at Victoria High School is about a year behind due to pandemic-related factors, the Greater Victoria School District announced. (Photo by Cole Descoteau)
Victoria High School seismic work, expansion a year behind schedule

Greater Victoria School District now targeting September 2023 for reopening of historic school

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes following provincial reopening announcement

Recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

Elk Lake Drive area resident Michael Blayney protests a proposed multi-building development for his Royal Oak neighbourhood, outside Saanich municipal hall on Monday (June 14). (Photo by Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
Demonstrators protest 11-storey development on Elk Lake Drive in Saanich

Saanich locals gather at municipal hall to protest development, public hearing goes Tuesday

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

Neighbours fight a small late-night bush fire with garden hoses and shovels in Cinnabar Valley on June 5. They couldn’t get help from local fire services because the fire was located in an area under B.C. Wildfire Services jurisdiction. (Photo courtesy Muriel Wells)
Neighbours on edge of Nanaimo city limits left to put out bush fire themselves

Cinnabar Valley residents tackle fire with hoses and buckets for two and a half hours

Darren Campbell’s truck (pictured) was stolen when he stopped to check on a car in a ditch on Cowichan Bay Road on Monday morning. (Facebook photo)
Vancouver Island Good Samaritan’s truck stolen in nasty trick

‘Try to be a Good Samaritan and my $20,000 truck gets stolen right under my nose’

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Creative handmade signs abound at the June 13 Tofino rally for old growth trees. (Nora O’Malley photo)
VIDEO: Tofino stands in solidarity for Fairy Creek Blockades

Over 150 supporters attend rally hosted by Friends of Clayoquot Sound

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. watching U.K.’s COVID struggles but don’t think province will see similar pitfalls

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Most Read