VANCOUVER — The B.C. government’s decision to continue with the Site C dam is the wrong direction for jobs, the environment and First Nations’ rights and title, the David Suzuki Foundation says.
“The Site C dam is not the best climate change solution and will produce more carbon pollution than renewable energy alternatives,” said Foundation Western Canada director-general Jay Ritchlin. Site C had more significant negative environmental effects than any other project ever approved under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. “The Peace region has the province’s best wind resources, and we’re wasting the opportunity to expand the wind-energy industry,” Ritchlin said.
The Foundation has long argued that the megadam betrays Canada’s commitment under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. “We were looking for recognition from the province for its support of the UN declaration, but moving ahead fails the West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations, which did not consent to the development,” Ritchlin said. The land of Treaty 8 nations and farmers will be flooded by the dam.
“This is a lost opportunity for B.C. to create long-term sustainable renewable energy jobs that position the province as a leader in the energy economy,” Ritchlin said. “Focusing on renewables like wind energy and geothermal is the most cost-effective approach and best serves B.C. citizens, but sadly, we’re stuck with an expensive megaproject instead.”
Research from UBC opposes the decision and shows that renewable energy alternatives, remediation activities and energy efficiency programs outperform Site C employment numbers. Over the project’s life, renewable energy options would have created far more jobs. The BC Utilities Commission analyzed renewable energy options and found they would create 22 to 50 per cent more employment through to 2030. “Not only do we miss the opportunity to grow renewable energy jobs that reduce carbon emissions, but we destroy ecosystems, farmland and a First Nation’s treaty-protected way of life,” Ritchlin said.
Two years of remediation and 10 years of monitoring were expected to create nearly 10,000 jobs. Spending on conservation programs alone would have created 30 jobs for every $1 million spent, making it the most effective way to create employment.
Continuing with the project is bad news for ecosystems and farmland. Foundation research estimates ecosystem services from nature in the Peace watershed are conservatively worth $7.9 billion to $8.6 billion a year.
“The Site C dam should never have been approved in the first place. Now we’re throwing more money at bad public policy. British Columbians would have been better off without this megaproject,” Ritchlin said.
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Theresa Beer, David Suzuki Foundation, 778-874-3396, firstname.lastname@example.org