“This decision will benefit future generations,” Minister of the Environment, Leona Aglukkaq said yesterday in a written statement. “Over the life of the project, Site C is expected to help mitigate the growth in greenhouse gas emissions in Canada by preventing the discharge of between 34 to 76 megatonnes of CO2 equivalent… Our government is committed to making environmental assessment decisions based on the best available scientific evidence, and balancing economic and environmental considerations.”
But that doesn’t mean the fight is over for those who strongly oppose the project, according to the Peace Valley Environment Association.
In their argument, the association specifically points to the findings of Federal/Provincial Joint Review Panel, which has gone on record saying there’s no immediate need for the dam, expressed concerns about the cost and environmental impacts, while also recommending more time to investigate alternative means of power.
“The Treaty 8 First Nations, in whose territory the project is planned, stated several times in the last few months that if government chooses to proceed with Site C, then intend to take court action,” Coordinator of the Peace Valley Environment Association, Andrea Morison said in a written statement. “The Joint Review Panel determined that there were many significant adverse and unmitigable effects that would result from the project, impacting treaty rights and cultural practises.”
B.C. Hydro continues to insist it will be the source of clean, cost effective electricity, which will annually power the equivalent of 450,000 B.C. homes. Meanwhile, the Provincial and Federal Governments say they’ve outlined strict conditions for B.C. Hydro to follow if the project moves forward into construction.
“In the decision statement that I released today, there are over 80 legally binding conditions that must be fulfilled by the proponent, BC Hydro, throughout the life of the project in compliance with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012,” Minister Aglukkaq said during her announcement. “Failure to meet these conditions is a violation of federal law.”
Federal conditions include B.C. Hydro maintaining a minimum release of 390 cubic metres per second from the dam, creating provisions for assessing potential risks to infrastructure caused by low water flows, and developing a water quality management plan to address potential environmental effects to the aquatic environment.
Some of the province’s conditions include building 50 rental units in Fort St. John with some for low income housing, providing medical staff for on site care, and establishing a fund of $20 million to compensate for lost agricultural lands and activities.
The province continues to boast the potential of Site C will create a total of 29,000 direct and indirect jobs while also wiping the entire provincial debt, and opponents continue to argue the cost of electricity will inevitably fall into the lap of taxpayers, while also putting the Peace River in serious threat of irreversible damage.