Hiking in the Yukon. Image: Pat Morrow
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"I left inspired to protect the special places in my own backyard."
Sara Renner, Y2Y supporter

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New Decision on Site C

Last week, on October 14th, the controversial Site C dam on B.C.'s Peace River received environmental assessment approval from both the federal and B.C. governments.

Over the past few years, many Y2Y supporters have followed the Site C dam issue. You’ve sent in letters of opposition, paddled on British Columbia’s (B.C.) Peace River to demonstrate widespread opposition to development in the area and marched on the legislature grounds to highlight the damage the Site C dam would do to the Class 1 and 2 farmlands in the area.

Paddle for the Peace event in 2014
Photo: Wendy Francis

Last week, on October 14th, the controversial Site C dam on B.C.’s Peace River received environmental assessment approval from both the federal and B.C. governments.

Although this is not the decision we were striving for, there is still room to stop the dam.

The B.C. government announced that it had issued an environmental assessment certificate to BC Hydro for the $8 billion dam, with 77 conditions that include the establishment of a $20 million compensation fund for lost agricultural activities, and protocols to reduce harm to wildlife and habitat.

“The basis on which the B.C. government could issue an approval is unclear to us,” said Y2Y President Karsten Heuer. “The Joint Review Panel, considering the dam’s impacts, determined that they are so significant that only an “unambiguous need” for the power would justify them. And BC Hydro did not demonstrate such a need.”

Cartoon by Walter Sekon

Site C would flood more than 100 kilometres (60 miles) of valley bottoms, destroying wildlife habitat and some of B.C.’s best agricultural land. The Peace River Valley is at the narrowest width of the Yellowstone to Yukon region. Y2Y is concerned that the cumulative impacts of the Site C reservoir and the region’s heavy industrial footprint will have a devastating impact on wildlife movements.

Y2Y commissioned a report by expert biologist Dr. Clayton Apps who presented to the Joint Review Panel his conclusion that the construction of Site C would threaten the future survival of several wildlife populations in the region. His report is available here.

“The Joint Review Panel shared our opinion that a regional cumulative effects assessment is warranted for the Peace River Break,” says Heuer. “This should occur before further impacts to the environment and cultural values are caused by Site C and other significant projects.”

Peace River Valley by Larry Peterson
Photo: Larry Peterson

It’s now up to the B.C. cabinet to decide whether or not Site C should proceed. Treaty 8 First Nations have said they will go to court to stop the dam, which will flood sites of historical and cultural importance to local First Nations.

The Joint Review Panel, which included cumulative impacts, concluded that the dam “would likely cause a significant adverse effect on fishing opportunities and practices for the First Nations . . . and these effects cannot be mitigated.”

We will keep you abreast of new opportunities to be involved with this campaign. Stay tuned.