Sarah Cox

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Sarah Cox is an award-winning journalist based in Victoria, B.C. She is the author of the forthcoming book Breaching the Peace: The Site C Dam and a Valley’s Stand Against Big Hydro (UBC Press, Spring 2018). Sarah has won two Western Magazine Awards and a Vancouver Press Club award, and has been nominated for Jack Webster and Canadian Association of Journalism awards. Prior to returning to independent journalism in 2016, Sarah spent a decade working in the environmental non-profit sector.

As Site C Decision Looms, Peace Valley Locals Agonize Over Potential Loss of Homes, Livelihoods

Ken Boon, Peace Valley Farmer

Days away from a final decision on Site C, Peace Valley landowners have launched a “Home for the Holidays” campaign featuring photographs of families who would lose their homes to the $9 billion dam and appealing to the NDP government to terminate the project.

Ken and Arlene Boon, who appear in one of the Christmas card-like photos standing on the steps of their third generation farmhouse overlooking the Peace River, said 70 valley residents are waiting “on pins and needles” to find out if the project will be cancelled, a decision Premier John Horgan said he will announce before the end of December.

It’s tough,” Ken Boon told DeSmog Canada. “I know there are a lot of people right now who are expecting the worst but we are definitely not throwing in the towel considering what we’ve all been through.”

Site C Decision Will be Made Any Day Now — What the Hell is Going On?

John Horgan NDP Site C

An independent review of the Site C hydro dam was pegged as the solution to a long and bitter battle over the fate of the $9 billion project championed by B.C.’s former Liberal government.

The bombshell review gave the new NDP government plenty of new ammunition to terminate Site C, which would flood the traditional homeland of Treaty 8 First Nations in the Peace River Valley and destroy dozens of designated heritage and archeological sites, including indigenous burial grounds.

But at the eleventh hour, with a final Site C decision expected as early as next week, the government seems poised to green light the project in the face of pressure from unlikely bedfellows that include construction trade unions, NDP party insiders, Liberal MLAs and BC Hydro.

NDP Union Heavyweights Come Out Fighting for Site C

NDP Unions, Lobbyists Marvin Shaffer, Bill Tieleman Site C John Horgan.

The NDP’s trade union base fired another missive today in an attempt to persuade the B.C. government to greenlight the Site C dam, as party insiders and union donors to the party continue to ramp up lobbying efforts in support of the $9 billion hydro project.

The Allied Hydro Council of B.C. held its second press conference in a week attempting to discredit some of the findings of the independent B.C. Utilities Commission (BCUC) investigation into Site C.

B.C. Government Failing to Keep Data on Freshwater Resources Amid Fracking, Forestry Frenzy: Report

BC freshwater conservation BC Real Estate Foundation

Canadians are among the world’s top water guzzlers, with each person using enough water, on average, to fill almost 13,000 bathtubs each year, and pay little for the privilege. For example, in B.C., oil and gas companies pay pennies on the dollar compared to regular users for their water usage.

But just how healthy are the lakes, rivers, and streams in B.C. that supply us with drinking water and H2O for industrial uses such as fracking?

Digging for The Truth on Site C Dam Job Numbers

Site C Dam November 5, 2017

Site C jobs are often cited as a main reason to proceed with the $9 billion dam on B.C.’s Peace River. But how many jobs would Site C actually create? Are there really 2,375 people currently employed on the project, as widely reported this month?

DeSmog Canada dove into Site C jobs numbers. We found dubious claims, political spin, and far too much secrecy.

Hudson’s Hope Goes Solar As Town Faces Site C’s Biggest Impacts

District of Hudson's Hope Solar Array

Solar-powered curling, anyone? Or what about solar-powered sewage treatment?

Hudson’s Hope, the municipality that would be most affected by the Site C dam, is going solar with a blast.

It’s starting to look like a real, honest to goodness twenty-first century solar community,” said Don Pettit of the Peace Energy Renewable Energy Cooperative, the business that recently installed 1,580 photovoltaic panels, giving Hudson’s Hope the largest municipal solar array in the province.

The panels — in more than a half-dozen locations, including on the rooftops of the public works shop, municipal building, curling rink, arena, and beside sewage treatment lagoons — will save an estimated $70,000 a year in hydro bills, according to Hudson’s Hope mayor Gwen Johansson.

Site C Dam Costs Could Escalate 40%, Says Auditor's Report

Site C dam construction

The Site C dam project faces “significant schedule and cost pressures” that could inflate its final price tag to more than $12.5 billion, according to a new report by one of Canada’s leading auditing firms.

The report, by Deloitte LLP, was commissioned by the B.C. Utilities Commission as part of an independent review of the BC Hydro project on the Peace River ordered by the new B.C. government.

The report substantiates statements from many prominent critics of the project, including former BC Hydro CEO Marc Eliesen, that the $8.8 billion project faces serious risks of major cost overruns.

‘Stop the Losses’: Former BC Hydro CEO Calls for Cancellation of Site C Dam

Site C dam construction

The decision to proceed with the Site C dam was “reckless and irresponsible” and continuing the project will result in a “series of devastating high electricity rate increases” that will lead to job losses and business failures, the former President and CEO of BC Hydro has told the B.C. Utilities Commission in a formal submission.

Marc Eliesen, who was at the helm of BC Hydro from 1992 to 1994, outlined why he believes the only financially responsible course of action is to cancel the $8.8 billion project and remediate the Peace River site in order to minimize Site C’s negative impact on BC Hydro customers and taxpayers.

Both the former government and BC Hydro’s Board abdicated their fiduciary responsibility to the rate payers and tax payers of this province,” Eliesen said in his 22-page submission to the BCUC, which is conducting a fast-tracked review of Site C’s finances and construction schedule.

There never was a business case for the start-up of construction of Site C, and there is not a business case to support its continuation or postponement.”

EXCLUSIVE: BC Hydro Spent $20 Million Quietly Buying Land for Site C Before Dam Was Approved

Ken and Arlene Boon

BC Hydro spent more than $20 million quietly buying up Peace Valley property for the Site C hydro dam in the four years before the project was approved, according to documents obtained by DeSmog Canada.

The cost of the land purchases has never been publicly disclosed by BC Hydro, and only came to light as a result of a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

Even then, it took more than four months after the request was filed for BC Hydro to release the figures, and the information was only provided following an appeal to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC) after BC Hydro said it was extending the legal deadline for response. The OIPC found that BC Hydro “did not provide sufficient evidence” to justify a time extension.

It's Finally Happening: Site C Gets Its Date with the B.C. Utilities Commission

Ken Boon

David Vardy has a message for British Columbia about continuing work on the Site C dam while the project undergoes a quick independent review by the B.C. Utilities Commission (BCUC).

My comment to British Columbia is a big red sign saying ‘Stop.’ This is crazy. Don’t go ahead with this [project],” Vardy told DeSmog Canada.

While the review is taking place the activity should be suspended.”

Vardy is the former chair and CEO of Newfoundland’s public utilities board, which reviewed the “boondoggle” Muskrat Falls dam after a new provincial government came to power. As in the case of Site C and B.C.’s former Liberal government, the previous Newfoundland government had refused to allow independent scrutiny of Muskrat Falls.

On Wednesday the B.C. cabinet instructed the BCUC to provide two reports on Site C — a preliminary report by September 20 and a final report by November 1.

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