Delegates to this week’s UBCM annual meeting have been greeted outside the Vancouver Convention Centre by Site-C dam opponents urging them to support several resolutions on their agenda calling for BC Utilities Commission and Agricultural Land Commission oversight of the controversial project.
That’s where we caught up to Joe Foy, the National Campaign Director of the Wilderness Committee, the non-profit environmental education organization, which aims to protect Canada’s wild spaces and species.
“I think what we’re looking at here is the biggest mistake that British Columbia has ever made. I think that it’s really important that we put a lot of effort to make sure that mistake doesn’t happen. We still have a number of court cases. Blueberry First Nation for instance is still in court. There are appeals; there will be additional appeals. This is just too big a mistake to let lie.”
Mr. Foy went on to explain that remark, outlining why he believes the third dam on the Peace River is a colossal mistake.
“Nine billion dollars for a project that has no useful purpose. The greatest loss of agricultural land that we’ve ever seen out of our agricultural land reserve, and all of this, the money, the farmland. Our provincial government has removed the lawful rightful oversight of the BC Utilities Commission, the Agricultural Land Commission. That really stinks and could hurt all of us as British Columbians.”
With federal and provincial government approval, two court challenges dismissed by the BC Supreme Court, two others dismissed by a Federal Court, and BC Hydro site preparation work now into its second month, the question being asked by some is, “Is it time for opponents of the Site-C dam to throw in the towel?”
The answer to that question is a firm “NO” according the National Campaign Director of the Western Canada Wilderness Committee formed in BC in 1980.
With a membership now of more than 30,000, Foy and other dam opponents, were outside the Vancouver Convention Centre this week, hoping to persuade delegates to the UBCM annual meeting to support resolutions aimed at getting the dam project before the BC Utilities Commission and the Agricultural Land Commission.
“We needed to go in front of those two commissions. The other thing that we need to know from the highest court in the land is where they stand on the Aboriginal rights issues. Treaty 8 is a treaty for coexistence and it doesn’t seem right to me that the Peace River with the Aboriginal rights issue is so heavily impacted in British Columbia. I would say enough has been given, we need to leave something for further generations. We want to have our say. We want those two, the Agricultural Land Commission, the B.C. Utilities Commission, we want to hear from the federal courts. If at the end of the day we don’t get our way, then that’s how the system works but right now it’s a rigged game and that’s got to stop.”
He added if going to the Supreme Court of Canada is what it takes, then so be it.
Mr. Foy’s non-profit Wilderness Committee reportedly has an annual budget of approximately $2 million, and about 90 per cent of its funding comes from individual donations and membership fees, with the rest from foundations and grants.