“The panel process itself will review the impact on agricultural land from Site-C. It will also review the impact generally on the agricultural industry from Site-C,” he says. “So we can’t see much sense having the panel spend all that time, effort, and resources examining the impact on agriculture and agricultural land when they are going to do it why would we want the Agricultural Land Commission to do it twice.”
Bennett also argues that “99 per cent” of good farmland in the Peace Region would be unaffected if the dam was approved.
However, the Vancouver Sun reports Peace River Regional District Area C Director Arthur Hadland is questioning Bennett’s authority on the matter, as he is not the Agriculture Minister, a role that belongs to Peace River South MLA Pat Pimm.
The project has already been exempted from a review by the B.C. Utilities Commission, which has rejected it in the past.
Public hearings before a federal-provincial joint review panel began in FortSt. John last week, and run through several B.C. and Alberta Peace communities until January. Once the hearings conclude, the panel will have 90 days to submit its environmental assessment report with recommendations, conclusions and rationale. The federal Minister will then decide how significant adverse environmental effects would be, and whether they would be justified.
Bennett says if it is approved, the dam won’t be built until 2024.