BC union stands with First Nations to oppose Site C hydro dam project
July 28, 2015 by STAFF REPORT
The B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union is joining First Nations and environmental advocates in opposing the B.C. government’s approval of the $8.3 billion Site C hydro electric dam project.
“Site C is the wrong choice for British Columbia. The project is not needed: there are better alternatives,” says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. “Site C will cause massive habitat loss. It violates First Nations’ indigenous rights. It removes high-value agricultural lands from production.
“The BCGEU supports the Treaty 8 First Nations, who are challenging the project in federal court. Site C would have a negative impact on their traditional use of the land, and would destroy traditional First Nations burial sites.”
The $8.3 billion Site C Clean Energy Project is a third dam, reservoir and hydroelectric generating station on the Peace River, approximately 7 km southwest of Fort St. John in northeast B.C. Part of the project includes the realignment of six sections of Highway 29 over a distance of 30 km. The project is expected to create 10,000 direct jobs during construction. Approved by the Province of British Columbia on December 16, 2014, construction of the project is expected to begin in the summer of 2015 with completion estimated to be 2024.
“Site C fails the economic test of providing a lasting net benefit to British Columbians,” Smith insists. “A recent report by energy analyst Robert McCullough notes that the dam would cost twice as much as alternative energy options like renewables and natural gas generation. The Joint Review Panel also concluded that the government has not fully demonstrated the need for the project on the timetable set forth.
“There’s been a shocking lack of public consultation on the Site C dam,” says Smith. “The B.C. government has refused to allow the B.C. Utility Commission to review the project, and no effort has been made by this government to consider other sustainable energy sources.
“When a government refuses to consider alternative energy sources, sidelines its own utilities commission, ignores environmental concerns and aboriginal people’s constitutional rights, citizens have a responsibility to speak out. The BCGEU is proud to lend our voice to the growing chorus of British Columbians who say no to this ill-considered project.”
The BCGEU announcement on Site C follows a recent call by UNESCO World Heritage Committee for the Canadian government to delay development of dam sites until an environmental assessment of its impact on Wood Buffalo National Park can be done. The park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.