Site-C decision stirs mixed reactions

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Photo: B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell announces the proposed Site-C project will be moving into Stage 3, which is the Environmental and Regulatory Review process – Christine Rumleskie/Energeticcity.ca

 

By Christine Rumleskie

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B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell was met with a slew of anti-Site-C demonstrators at the Hudson’s Hope airport on Monday.

Although it wasn’t clear at the time what the Premier was in town for, concerned landowner Arthur Hadland says Campbell did a good job avoiding protestors.

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Campbell made his way to the W.A.C. Bennett Dam to announce that the Province was approving the recommendations from B.C. Hydro, and that it will be moving into Phase ‘3’ of the Site-C plans.

Site-C is a proposed third dam on the Peace River. If approved, it will be located just outside of Fort St. John, and B.C. Hydro says the dam would produce enough electricity to power 410,000 homes each year.

Monday’s announcement was by invite-only, and security was beefed-up at the dam.

While anti-Site-C demonstrators felt the location was too private, Dawson Creek Mayor Mike Bernier says the W.A.C. Bennett Dam was an appropriate location for the event.

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Energy minister Blair Lekstrom helped kick off the event, calling the announcement, ‘historic.’

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He says the concerns of local landowners will not go unnoticed in the independent Environmental Assessment and ongoing consultation processes.

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During the event, officials kept referring to "when" the project is completed, and not "if" it gets approval.

That surprised both Hudson’s Hope Mayor Karen Anderson and Chair of the Peace River Regional District Karen Goodings.

Goodings says she hopes the Province really considers the local concerns before making any concrete decisions.

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She says the PRRD board will now need to discuss its plans on mitigating any impacts of the proposed dam.

North Peace MLA Pat Pimm says he will see to it that concerned landowners are treated fairly during the consultation process.

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Campbell briefly spoke to reporters at the event. He encourages farmers and landowners to take part in the upcoming consultations.

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Prior to Monday’s announcement, Fort St. John city council agreed to conduct a socio-economic impact study, should Site-C negotiations advance.

Fort St. John Mayor Bruce Lantz says now that a firm decision is made to go forwards, the City can find out what kind of benefits the proposed project will have on the area.

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Meanwhile, Arthur Hadland says he wants to see a legitimate business case made before the Site-C project moves forward. He says he doesn’t believe B.C. needs more power. Other concerned landowners echo his belief, and recommend that the province should simply promote conservation, rather than build more dams.

B.C. Hydro predicts that the Province will need to produce 20-40 per cent more energy in 20 years from now. So B.C. Hydro spokesperson Dave Conway says it’s going to take more than just energy conservation to meet the future energy needs of B.C.

He says Site-C is part of B.C. Hydro’s three-pronged approach to meet the future needs of the Province, along with the implementation of green energy projects like wind farms, and the promotion of energy conservation.

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Click on the attachment below for the full Stage 2 Report submitted by B.C. Hydro to the Province.

 


Photo: RCMP officers monitor the peaceful demonstration held at the Hudson’s Hope airport on Monday. B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell landed at the location, and was shuttled to the W.A.C. Bennett Dam to announce plans for the proposed Site-C – Christine Rumleskie/Energeticcity.ca

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