Want To Reduce Suicide in Native Communities? Step 1: Stop Destroying Native Land

Construction on the Site C dam on the Peace River

For the past couple weeks, Canadians have been wringing their hands about the suicide epidemic in the Pimicikamak Cree Nation in Cross Lake, Manitoba.
In the community of 6,000, six people have killed themselves in two months and more than 140 suicide attempts have been made in two weeks, leading the First Nation to declare a state of emergency.
Much of the blame has been placed on historic injustices — the very real fall-out of colonization and the residential school system.
But another historic injustice has also come to light: hydro development — which can be traced back to the Northern Flood Agreement of 1977. That agreement forced people from their homes and disrupted hunting, trapping and fishing.
In 2015, Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger personally apologized for the damage caused by hydro development to Cross Lake’s traditional land, way of life and cultural identity. He also acknowledged that Indigenous people were not properly consulted on the Jenpeg hydroelectric dam, 500 kilometres north of Winnipeg.

New Maps Reveal B.C. Has Enough Geothermal Potential to Power Entire Province

Blue Lagoon Geothermal Power Plant

At a time when B.C.’s politicians are considering flooding the Peace Valley for the Site C hydroelectric dam, a new project by the Canadian Geothermal Energy Association says the province could be sitting on a figurative gold mine of power with low environmental impact.

The project used publicly available data to produce a database of maps and supporting information that show all the areas in B.C. that have the potential to produce geothermal energy. The project reports that, using existing technology, the province could produce between 5,500 and 6,600 mega watts of power — enough to power the whole province.
Ironically, the information CanGEA used comes mainly from the oil and gas industry, which is required by law to report on things like well depth and temperature.

The Downside of The Boom: Fort St. John Mayor Worries Site C Dam Will Put Strain On Community

Lori Ackerman Mayor of Fort St. John

Projects like the $7.9-billion Site C dam cannot be built “on the shoulders of communities,” says the mayor of Fort St. John, B.C., a city located just seven kilometres from the proposed hydro dam and its 1,700-man work camps.

Mayor Lori Ackerman told DeSmog Canada her community is holding its breath waiting for the province’s decision on the project.

It is one of those things where we would just like the decision to be made so we know which way we’re going,” Ackerman said.

The provincial and federal governments are expected to issue a decision on the dam — the third on the Peace River — this fall.

In her January presentation to the joint review panel assessing the project, Ackerman was emphatic that  “empowering the province should not disempower Fort St. John.”

Many we spoke to felt the community would be run over by this project,” she said.  “Our community is at a saturation point for many of the services that our citizens want and need.”

Two Hydro Dams and 16,000 Oil and Gas Wells: Has the Peace Already Paid Its Price For B.C.’s Prosperity?

Flood Reserve Level Site C dam

It’s a sweltering 35 degrees as I pull up to a trailer housing the W.A.C. Bennett Dam visitor centre just outside Hudson’s Hope, 100 kilometres west of Fort St. John.

I’m here to see B.C.’s largest hydro dam first-hand. Damming the Peace River is back in the news this fall as the provincial and federal governments make up their minds about the Site C dam, which would be the third dam on this river.

I’m handed a fluorescent safety vest and am ushered on to a bus along with about 10 others.

Completed in 1967, the W.A.C. Bennett Dam is one of the world's largest earthfill structures, stretching two kilometres across the head of the Peace Canyon and creating B.C.’s largest body of freshwater, the Williston Reservoir.

Two peppy young women are our guides today. They inform us we’ll be heading more than 150 metres underground into the dam’s powerhouse and manifold.

Field of Dreams: Peace Valley Farmers, Ranchers Fight to Keep Land Above Water As Site C Dam Decision Looms

Ardill Ranch

In 1920, Renee Ardill’s grandparents arrived in the Peace Valley with nothing more than a milk cow, saddle horse and team and wagon. They chose a piece of land on the banks of the Peace River, built a cabin, hunted moose and grew what they could.

They built everything from the ground up,” Ardill told DeSmog Canada. “Imagine being able to pick your piece of land and make what you wanted out of it.”

The Ardill family has been here ever since, running a cattle ranch on the banks of the Peace. But their days could be numbered if BC Hydro’s Site C hydroelectric dam gets the go-ahead this fall from the provincial and federal governments.

‘The Truth Would Set Us Free’: The Plight of the Peace Valley and the Site C Dam

Paddle for the Peace

I round a bend on Highway 29 just west of Fort St. John and a magnificent river valley opens up before me.

At the bottom of the winding road, farmers' fields stretch as far as the eye can see along the banks of the mighty Peace River.

This is the same valley explorer Alexander Mackenzie paddled through in 1792, noting in his journal that the valley was so rich in wildlife that in some places it looked like a barnyard.

Ninety per cent of the people who take that drive remember it for a lifetime,” says local rancher Leigh Summer.

Today, the highway toward Hudson’s Hope is dotted with trucks carrying canoes and kayaks, all converging upon one spot: the Halfway River bridge, where the 9th annual Paddle for the Peace will launch.

New Centre Releases First Ever Report on Canada's Growing Renewable Energy Sector

renewable energy, desmog canada, SFU

Renewable energy — energy from natural sources that replenish themselves at the same rate they are used — accounted for sixty-seven per cent of Canada’s electricity generation in 2013. Biomass, wind, and solar power nearly made up a quarter of all renewable energy generation (heating, fuels and electricity) in Canada last year. 

Unfortunately there is no comparable national data available in Canada from any other year, so it is hard to know just how much Canada's renewable energy sector has grown. The findings for 2013 come from a newly expanded renewable energy database launched earlier this year by the Canadian Industrial Energy End-Use Data Analysis Centre (CIEEDAC), part of Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, BC. It is the first of its kind in Canada.*

Financial analysts, renewable energy developers, policy-makers need solid, reliable and recent data on renewable energy in Canada to know what is happening in the sector,” Dan Woynillowicz policy director at Clean Energy Canada says.

The irony of Canada calling itself an energy superpower is how difficult it is to get up-to-date accurate data on Canadian energy production here. Some of the better statistics actually come from the U.S.,” Woynillowicz told DeSmog Canada.

B.C. Business Community Slams 'Astronomical' Cost of Building Site C Dam

Major industrial power users in British Columbia fear that if the proposed Site C dam becomes a reality, rate hikes could put mills and mines out of business while saddling taxpayers with a costly white elephant and ballooning BC Hydro debt.

A decision on the $7.9 billion plan to build a third hydroelectric dam on the Peace River will be made by the federal and provincial governments this fall.

Economic questions about the mega-project were raised by last month’s joint review panel report, which noted the dam would likely be “the largest provincial public expenditure of the next 20 years.”

Ontario Could Save Billions By Buying Quebec's Hydro Power

Ontario Quebec hydropower, hydroelectricity

Ontario could avoid refurbishing aging nuclear stations and save over $1 billion annually on electricity bills if the province imported water power from Quebec, says the Ontario Clean Air Alliance, a coalition of 90 organizations that promote renewable energy. 

This one is really a no-brainer,” Jack Gibbons, chair of the alliance, told DeSmog Canada. The alliance was largely responsible for Ontario agreeing to phase out all coal-fire power plants by December 31, 2014.

Quebec is the fourth largest producer of hydroelectricity in the world (behind China, Brazil and the U.S.) and has a large hydro surplus the province usually sells to the U.S. Existing power lines between Ontario and Quebec can transport nearly as much power as Ontario’s Darlington nuclear station produces. This amounts to more than 10 per cent of Ontario’s peak demand on a hot summer’s day.

Importing hydro from Quebec is technically feasible. The only barrier is lack of political will,” Mark Winfield, associate professor of environmental studies at York University, says.

Subscribe to hydroelectricity