Photo: Area C Director Arthur Hadland raised his concerns about the proposed Site C dam at Wednesday evening’s meeting./Kimberley Molina


Residents and politicians from around the Peace River area streamed into the Pomeroy Hotel Wednesday night to attend B.C. Hydro’s latest meeting in Fort St. John on the proposed Site C dam.

Posters and boards lined the walls, providing information on the various studies B.C. Hydro is and will be conducting around the proposed Site C dam area.

B.C. Hydro officials began the meeting by giving a brief overview of the work the power authority has been carrying out for the environmental review phase of the project, including climate monitoring, air quality monitoring and field studies.

Some of the field studies include investigating the dam site, investigating current shoreline conditions and monitoring various wildlife habitats and hibernation sites.

Several residents questioned numerous aspects of the project, including future climatic impacts in the region, how the power authority assesses dam failure risk factors related to seismic activity and the project’s impact on current agricultural lands.

One resident discussed the fact that there have been mild to moderate induced earthquakes near the proposed dam site over the past couple of decades due to fracking activities. She questioned whether B.C. Hydro has taken seismic activity into consideration with the dam’s design.

One of the engineers on the project said that the dam’s design had been changed to take into account the recent seismic activity and the fact the region has risen from a low seismic activity risk level to a moderate level.

The Regional District’s Area C Director Arthur Hadland questioned the soil stability in the area. He said the soil stability around the proposed area is uncertain due to the prevailing montmorillonite clay, which he believes is unstable.

B.C. Hydro will be evaluating and assessing the impacts of Site C and will then try and avoid those impacts, says Dave Conway, B.C. Hydro spokesperson.

The project is currently in Stage 3 – the environmental review phase – of a five step evaluation.
Once the environmental review phase is complete, Conway says the information collected from the various studies will be presented to both the federal and provincial environmental assessment offices. Both levels of government would then have to approve the project before it could proceed. He also says it is the federal and provincial governments that outline the required process B.C. Hydro must follow.

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The Site C debate has been ongoing for decades, having been proposed by B.C. Hydro twice before. Conway says the reason the project never went through before was due to two reasons.

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Conway also says B.C. Hydro has been supporting alternative energy projects, including wind generation.

Despite residents’ personal opinions on the Site C dam, Conway says one thing he has seen a lot of is passion, people wanting to ensure that their views are heard and taken into account.

According to the B.C. Hydro website, if the project passes the regulatory review phase, the dam could be completed and generating electricity by 2020.