On April 8, the Provincial government enacted Order in Council No. 148, which removed land for the Site C in the largest exclusion in the 43-year history of the ALR.
In a recent letter to the Premier, the PRRD expressed its concern over the decision to remove the lands, without an application or any public input. In the letter, PRRD Chair, Lori Ackerman, asked the government to provide an explanation of this decision, especially since previous cabinet orders for exclusion were subject to public input before a decision was made.
“Public participation on such a large and important project as Site C is important for maintaining open and transparent communication with all stakeholders,” said Ackerman in her letter.
Minister of Energy and Mines, Bill Bennett responded to the Regional District’s letter on behalf of the Premier, stating that the Lieutenant Governor in Council, has the authority to exclude lands from the ALR, on recommendation of the Environment and Land Use Committee (ELUC). According to Bennett’s letter, the ELUC approved the recommendation to remove the lands in mid-March 2015.
“Further review by the ALC would duplicate the review on the impacts on agriculture that took place as part of the provincial environmental assessment process on Site C, which included a public hearing process by the independent Joint Review Panel (JRP),” said Bennett. To review it again, would increase costs to taxpayers and potentially delay the project.
The JRP asked the ALC for input on the project, and reviewed Site C’s potential impacts on agriculture in the area, said Bennett. It concluded that permanent loss of the agricultural production in the Peace River Valley bottomlands, which would be impacted by Site C, is not significant in the context of British Columbia’s agricultural production. More than 99 per cent of land capable of crop production in the Peace Agricultural Region won’t be affected by Site C.
BC Hydro’s proposed mitigation measures for agriculture include a $20 million agricultural compensation fund. BC Hydro will work with the Ministry of Agriculture to implement this fund. Individual farm mitigation plans will be created to manage for project effects and support the continued operations of the majority of farms near Site C, Bennett’s letter concluded.
Here is a copy of the letter from Minister Bennett.