This week’s column for 24Hrs Vancouver: BC Hydro hasn’t proved its case Site C is even needed
A very late posting of my Monday column this week,as unexpected events last weekend required my attention elsewhere, and delayed other posts here on my site as well.
This week, Brent and I debated this question: Do the benefits of BC Hydro’s Site C dam outweigh the impacts?
Brent wrote first, and here is my response:
What isn’t said about a hot topic is often more telling than what is.
The debate topic this week assumes there are benefits to the Site C dam project in the first place — something currently under scrutiny by critics and rightly so. The bigger question about the Site C proposal is whether we even need it or not, and what is the real motivation behind the project. The public has been told it’s to power liquefied natural gas plants, to keep BC Hydro rates low, and the province’s future power needs. So which one of these is it?
In an interview with the Globe and Mail recently, even Energy Minister Bill Bennett expressed his lack of confidence in the project, referring to the financial and regulatory hurdles the project faces, both of which are significant.
The costs of the project are astronomical, estimated in 2011 as $7.9 billion. The environmental impacts are far greater than just what Brent focuses on with the impact on land in the Agricultural Land Reserve in the Peace River.
Not only will wildlife habitat be lost forever, there will be an irreparable impact on First Nations in the area. They will lose traditional hunting and fishing grounds, as well as identified archeological sites along the riverbanks.
As a taxpayer in British Columbia, it’s important to me that the justification for the project is verified independently of BC Hydro’s claims to ensure the best interests of citizens are being served. Sadly, that isn’t going to happen since the Liberal government has exempted the proposal from the independent oversight of the B.C. Utilities Commission. The commission would have reviewed the cost estimates for accuracy, as well as the justifications for the project itself.
This failure to allow an independent review of the project leaves British Columbians relying on information that hasn’t been confirmed. The results of a report released by the joint federal-provincial environmental review panel for the proposal gives reason to doubt BC Hydro’s information.
The panel reported a number of discrepancies and inconsistencies in the reports provided by BC Hydro, including a failure to provide information about the impact on First Nations activities, among other vital information. That’s alarming on many levels — what would a review of their financial information show us?
Read the rest of this weeks column and vote, here: http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/2013/12/01/bc-hydro-hasnt-proved-its-case-project-is-even-needed
My update on the NDP post will be up later this morning, barring further unforeseen events.