Site C

Site C to Test B.C. NDP’s Commitment to Indigenous Rights

John Horgan UNDRIP Site C

By Zoë Ducklow for The Tyee.

Recent experiences with the federal government have left Prophet River First Nation member Helen Knott wary of government promises.

So while she and other Indigenous people are excited about NDP provincial government commitments to adopt the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, words are not enough. And the Site C dam in northeastern B.C., they say, will be the government’s first test of its commitment.

The vocalization that they’ll adhere to UNDRIP is a start, but it’s about actions,” Knott says. “And Site C is the place to start with it, because it’s the issue that’s out front and in everybody’s faces.”

Terminating Site C Dam, Building Alternatives Could Save B.C. Over $1B: Economist

Site c construction 2016

Karen Goodings avoids the Site C dam area on the Peace River because she finds it too heart-wrenching to look at the havoc caused by construction work, but, for the first time in years, she is now holding out hope that the $8.8-billion project will be scrapped.

I want to see it permanently stopped and now I think there is enough information out there to talk about alternate sources of power that are more economical and less devastating,” said Goodings, a Peace River Regional District director.

Her optimism has been boosted by reports underlining financial uncertainties with Site C and emphasizing that B.C.’s power needs can be met by wind, geothermal and solar projects.

Falling Costs of Renewable Power Make Site C Dam Obsolete, Says Energy Economist

Site C dam

The cost of renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power, has dropped dramatically since the previous B.C. government decided to build the Site C dam and the B.C. Utilities Commission must look at updated figures when considering the megaproject’s future, says a prominent energy consultant.

Robert McCullough, who is recognized as a North American expert on hydroelectric issues, was asked by the Peace Valley Landowner Association and Peace Valley Environment Association to make a submission to the BCUC, using up-to-date figures and research.

His conclusion is that BC Hydro could meet the province’s power needs at a much lower cost than the projected $8.8-billion Site C price-tag, without supply risks.

Letter from Former B.C. Premier Calls for Halt to Site C Dam

Former B.C. Premier Mike Harcourt

The Site C dam is an “economic, fiscal, environmental and aboriginal treaty rights disaster,” according to former B.C. Premier Mike Harcourt.

In a letter submitted to the B.C. Utilities Commission, which is currently reviewing the $8.8 billion project, Harcourt said Site C will “severely damage BC Hydro and B.C. credit ratings” and lead to increases for ratepayers across the province.

Harcourt, who first voiced opposition against Site C in late 2016, said a recent study from Oxford University that found worldwide hydro projects see average cost overruns of 90 per cent should be a warning to B.C.

Canada in Hot Seat for Resource Policies at UN Racial Discrimination Hearing

John Ridsdale

Indigenous leaders from northern British Columbia are calling on the UN to investigate whether ongoing industrial development of Indigenous lands and waters constitutes a violation of UN conventions this week.

Canada is up for review by the UN International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. In a submission, tribes from B.C.’s northwest said Canada’s environmental assessment laws continue to measure money instead of impact.

One of the signatories is Deneza Na’Moks (John Ridsdale), a hereditary chief of the Wet’suwet’en. He travelled to the UN on the heels of the recent approval and then cancellation of Petronas’ plans to build a pipeline and the Pacific NorthWest liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in the Skeena River estuary.

New Aerial Photos Show Site C Construction Impact As Utilities Commission Review Looms

 Site C Construction Peace River Comparison July 2017

Although former B.C. premier Christy Clark vowed to push the $9-billion Site C dam past the “point of no return” before the May 2017 provincial election, the fate of the most expensive public project in B.C.’s history is still far from certain.

B.C.'s new NDP government has vowed to send the dam for an expedited review of costs and demand by the B.C. Utilities Commission within a speedy six-week timeframe. 

New aerial photos of Site C construction show a small stretch of the Peace River valley significantly altered by excavation crews. The building of the actual dam and associated infrastructure has yet to take place. Unless the project is stopped, construction is expected to continue until 2024 when the filling of the reservoir will flood 107 kilometres of river valley, flooding valuable agricultural land and First Nations historic sites.

An analysis by the Program on Water Governance at the University of British Columbia found that, if completed, Site C would operate at a 100 per cent surplus incurring an estimated $800 million to $2 billion loss to B.C. ratepayers. That same analysis calculated cancellation of Site C by the end of June 2017 would save B.C. between $500 million and $1.65 billion.

Three Indigenous Perspectives on Canada 150 in the Era of Pipelines, Dams and Mines

Caleb Behn Canada 150

The massive “Canada 150” celebrations of July 1 are finally over, leaving little in their wake but hangovers, a multi-million dollar price tag and mountains of trash.

But for some Indigenous peoples in Canada, the festivities remain a visceral reminder of their continued dispossession from ancestral lands and waters. That’s especially true for those on the frontlines of megaprojects — pipelines, hydro dams, oil and gas wells, liquefied natural gas terminals and mines — that infringe on Indigenous land rights.

DeSmog Canada caught up with three Indigenous people directly involved in local struggles to resist such projects.

Water Usage in B.C.’s Northeast Requires Indigenous Consent

Fracking wastewater B.C. Photo: CCPA

By Grand Chief Stewart Phillip and Ben Parfitt

One of the most important things that all Green and New Democratic Party MLAs agreed to in reaching their historic agreement to cooperate in governing together is their  “foundational” support of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The Declaration is absolutely unambiguous in stating the “urgent need” for governments to respect and promote the inherent rights of Indigenous Peoples to their lands, territories and resources.

Enter the $8.8 billion Site C hydroelectric dam, a project that former premier Christy Clark vowed to push past the point of no return, but that remains years away from construction.

What’s the Future of Hydroelectric Power in Canada?

Emosson Reservoir in Switzerland. Photo: Martin Funk

After weeks of delay, the B.C. NDP has finally been asked to form government, thanks to a co-operation agreement with the Green Party.

A key component of that now-famous NDP-Green “confidence and supply agreement” signed in late May is its commitment to “immediately refer the Site C dam construction project to the B.C. Utilities Commission.”

While premier-delegate John Horgan hasn’t confirmed whether he will cancel the $9-billion project — it will take around six weeks for the utility commission to actually provide a preliminary report — previous statements suggest he’s certainly sympathetic to the idea.

Conflicts over hydroelectric dams aren’t confined to British Columbia: think of Labrador’s Muskrat Falls or Manitoba’s Keeyask dam. In fact, alongside oil and gas extraction projects, hydroelectric dams arguably serve as some of the most contentious projects in Canada, largely due to detrimental impacts on Indigenous lands, territories and resources and skyrocketing costs.

But hydroelectric projects are also projected to serve as fundamental components in Canada’s transition away from fossil fuels. It’s a tension that only grows by the day.

DeSmog Canada took a deep dive into some of the politics of hydro.

What B.C.’s New NDP Minority Government Means for the Environment

Horgan Weaver NDP Green Agreement

Nearly two months have passed since the polls closed in B.C. and at last British Columbians know who will get to form government.

On Thursday, upon the conclusion of a no-confidence vote that ousted former Premier Christy Clark, NDP Leader John Horgan has been offered the opportunity to lead a new B.C. government under a historic partnership between his party and the Greens.

While B.C. awaits the swearing in of a new premier, we thought we’d take the time to tally up some critical promises the NDP and their Green collaborators have made on the environment file.

Pages

Subscribe to Site C