Guest post: Journey to the sacrifice zone of site C

** As the Moberly/Prophet River Site C treaty infringement injunction hearings continue this week in Vancouver, I was reminded of how little many people still know about the area, the people & wildlife impacted by the dam. I saw her photos a while ago and Louise was kind to share them here in this photoblog for those who haven’t seen them. 

Please follow the #sitec hashtag and @lidsville on twitter for latest updates from court this week &  https://witnessforthepeace.ca/updates-from-the-site-c-injunction-hearing/ for complete, routine updates**

 

 

Since that devastating day on December 11, 2017 when John Horgan announced his intention to continue building site c (despite all the logic against proceeding and all the vows to uphold UNDRIP), I have spent a lot of time learning about Site C. Not just the dam, but also about the area, the people, and what it will mean for taxpayers and ratepayers in the future. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind: Site C dam should be stopped.

This year for our summer vacation, my husband and I took our four year old son to the Peace River Valley for five days. We flew into Fort St John, rented a car, then drove towards Hudson’s Hope where we rented a motel room for the night.

The Peace River Valley area is really beautiful. I’ve been all over our beautiful province of British Columbia.The Peace River Valley is one of the most stunning places I’ve been in BC.

Part way along our drive, we rounded a bend on the highway. We were at the top of a large hill when I recognized the Boon’s farm with their cattle, very modest home, and outbuildings. I said to my husband, “Turn in here! I know these people.” My husband, feeling hesitant about our unscheduled visit, reluctantly turned into the property.

We drove up the long hill to their home and part way up,we saw the “flood line” marker that shows the depth that the Peace River Valley will flood to once Site C goes full pool (floods the valley). We arrived at the small white house – built by Arlene’s grandfather – and we knocked on the door and were met by the genuine warmth of Ken and Arlene.

When we stood near the Yellow Stakes, we were able to visualise the destruction that will now happen at the hands of John Horgan for the Site C dam. Their farm will erode and their home and outbuildings – which include a small museum called the Jim Watson Museum and a solar-powered guest cabin – will likely be gone. They are being expropriated from a large portion of their land with a date to be determined.

I couldn’t help it and got emotional thinking of this, but was able to catch myself with just a few tears before I burst into full on “ugly cry”. Arlene said to me, “Thank you so much for coming up. It’s so comforting knowing that people care about us way up here.”

(You should read about the still-pending – despite new BCNDP government – SLAPP suit against them.)

The Boons invited us to join them and a group of other people the next day to pound some fresh yellow stakes in the ground.

The Stake in the Peace campaign stemmed from an instance around Christmas of 2016. BC Hydro spiked a yellow stake next to their home to mark where the highway would go. For every $100 that is donated to the Stake in the Peace campaign, a donor will have a yellow stake with their name pounded into the Boons property.

100% of proceeds now go to the legal fight by the West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations. Please donate!

We went back the next day and helped with planting stakes. I recognized many of the names from Assembly of First Nations Chief Perry Belegrade, Craig Benjamin from Amnesty International, the founder of the ALR Harold Steves, Laila Yuile, and many others.

There were three stakes missing: John Horgan, Lana Popham, and George Heyman.

All had stood on the very ground I was on at one point in support of stopping Site C. Horgan even held a sign that said “Site C Sucks” while posing with Ken Boon. Those three had their stakes returned at the legislature in January 2018.

Later that day we went to Esther Pederson’s farm in Fort St John. Her farm has a lookout point that is directly above Site C. The Pederson’s will lose a large portion of their farm including where their house is once Site C dam goes to full pool. It was pretty shocking seeing the site.

In the video attached is resident Art Hadland speaking in the background. He discusses the shale that BC Hydro is now freely admitting the dam is being embedded into. Below you will see photos of the unstable slopes along the Peace River Valley. This is partly why the Site C dam was rejected in the 1980’s and 1990’s after reviews were done. It was uneconomic then and it’s even less economic now.

The next day we attended the Paddle for the Peace.

The Prophet River First Nation hosted the breakfast in the morning before the Paddle before everyone headed out. We didn’t paddle because we didn’t have a boat. But we were able to get some good photos of the event. It was a smaller than previous years event and it was clear there was a sense of mourning. There were farmers who faced near-imminent expropriation, indigenous leaders, area politicians, journalists, and a lot of supporters from various places. At one point Ken Boon said of John Horgan’s decision, “It’s bullshit.” I can’t agree more.

On one of our final days in the area, we stopped by West Moberly First Nation and say down with Chief Roland Willson. Unfortunately I did not get many photos. However, I did interview the Chief. You can read that here. He pointed out the health centre they are in the process of building. It will be 100% passive energy. I hope to go up again, so next time I will get photos!

At the end of this photoblog entry are a couple of videos.

The first is from a lookout near the Boons property. It shows the magnificence of the Peace River Valley. Nearly everything you see in the video will be destroyed by the flooding of the valley for this dam.

The second video is Site C itself, taken from the look out at Esther Pederson’s farm. To the right in the video you can see the mouth of Moberly River which will back up and contaminate Moberly Lake. Also to the right you can see cleared land which was the historic Rocky Mountain Fort.

The third video was taken from West Moberly First Nation of Moberly Lake.

I really want to emphasize that it hit me hard seeing the devastation the people and this area has suffered for the convenience of us in the south. This wouldn’t happen in a more populated area where more voters are. It truly is the “sacrifice zone” and it shouldn’t be. The Peace River Valley and the people of the area should be respected.

Site C dam should be stopped.

~Louise Gilfoy

 

 

 

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Peace River Valley

Site C Dam

Moberly Lake, view from West Moberly First Nation

18 thoughts on “Guest post: Journey to the sacrifice zone of site C

  1. Malcolm James

    There were 3 forts at the mouth of the Moberly. There was also a prehistoric site on the second terrace on the east side of the Moberly facing the Peace. We excavated and recorded these in 1981. There was an obsidian microblade made from Mt. Edziza Obsidian (Just southeast of Telegraph Creek.

    1. Laila Yuile

      Yes it still boggles me that on one hand, BC parks and conservation designated the Peace River a heritage river and on the other hand, govt decided to dam it….

      A good reminder of the rich history here:
      “B.C.’s Peace River Valley has made Heritage Canada The National Trust’s 2015 list of top 10 endangered places in Canada because of the pending Site C mega-dam project.

      “This landscape has such a long history, over 10,000 years of human occupation, an important prehistoric travel route and trade route,” said Natalie Bull, executive director of Heritage Canada.

      “There is evidence of human occupation and movement through the valley that predates the pyramids so it really does have a very long history.”

      From: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/site-c-dam-puts-peace-river-valley-on-canada-s-top-10-endangered-places-list-1.3099500

  2. The title of the initiative is:
    An initiative to cancel the Site C Dam Project.
    The BC Elections Form 911 – to register canvassers – can be downloaded from: http://www.elections.bc.ca/docs/init/911-Initiative-Petition-Application-for-Canvasser-Registration.pdf

    If you are a BC registered voter, Print a few of these forms and give them to interested folks who don’t have a printer. Fill out this application and send it to me, the proponent, so I can sign it and send it to BC Elections.
    My email is: ion.delsol@gmail.com
    If you can not scan it back into your computer to email it to me, you can mail it to:
    ion Moruso –
    GD Duncan Main,
    V9L 3W9

  3. e.a.f.

    Back in my misspent youth and working life I recall flying over and driving through this area. It is amazingly stunning. Its vast and open, and pretty. To cover it with water just isn’t right, in my opinion. This part of our province is a reminder of what our province once looked like before we covered it with buildings and black top. We need to preserve it not only for what it represents, but if climate change continues, we will need every square inch of that land to produce foods.

    I’d be just as happy if they covered it all up and left it to return to what it was. The workers can go back to their homes, where ever and perhaps get jobs building a few more schools, hospital, and repairing the highway between Nanaimo and the Comox Valley. Some of it is like a washboard. Those types of jobs keep people in their communities. as it now stands, the workers fly in and out for their jobs and when its finished all we have to show for it is a big pool of water which destroys the economy in the north. Building schools, hospitals, and repairing roads and highways, would be so much better. It would actually contribute to the growth of our province.

    If Meggs is the one who gave Horgan the advise to continue with the dam, some one ought to ensure he gets fired. He does the province and Horgan no good.

  4. Jose Wales

    It’s just unbelievable the way the government in BC just does whatever it wants regardless of what the people want. Elections are the traditional remedy for that and yet they seem to be less than effective at ridding the citizenry of these political opportunists than we might like.

  5. Megan W Ardyche

    In response to Jose Wales, I agree that our elections no longer work for the electorate. They completely work for the benefit of the parties. That’s why proportional representation is so important, and why BC’s referendum this fall is crucial. It’s time to make our governments more accountable to us, the voters. I hope you will all for in this referendum to adopt a proportional representation voting system. The ballot is a mail-in ballot that will be coming to your mailbox after October 22. Check out any number of websites on PR, including Elections BC, but I think the best website is fairvote.ca/pr4bc. Site C might never even have gotten off the ground if we had a proportional system. Fracking would probably not be happening if we had proportional representation. Changing our electoral system is step #1 in making our governments more accountable.

  6. E. Random

    Ms Yuile,

    How to fail by not really trying.

    Imagine this: Your car catches fire. Reason unknown. You flee to save your life. But there’s a service station nearby. If anyone can surely they can help..

    At your pre-repair intake session – a consultation of sorts – a PR rep arrives and asks you several questions. How do you “feel” about the loss of transportation? What was it like when everything went wrong? How much did the fire cost you? Did your insurance cover your expenses? Do you even have coverage? What did you or your community do to put out the fire?

    Next? What do you want done to repair your vehicle? Explain the process in specific and exhaustive detail. Because whether or not you have the remotest knowledge of how automobiles work before they incinerate – what happens next is entirely up to you.

    You write, “Yes it still boggles me that on one hand, BC parks and conservation designated the Peace River a heritage river and on the other hand, govt decided to dam it…”.

    If you have the time and patience to find and read it, there’s a 146 page pdf on line called

    “Addressing the New Normal: 21st Century Disaster Management in British Columbia”

    https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/public-safety-and-emergency-services/emergency-preparedness-response-recovery/embc/bc-flood-and-wildfire-review-addressing-the-new-normal-21st-century-disaster-management-in-bc-web.pdf

    Be my guest. If you search for the word FAULT it does not appear. ERROR? It does not appear. The word FAILURE appears once but not in terms of responsibility.

    Responsibility does appear frequently, but not in terms of Solutions.

    “Given this new reality, it is imperative the Government of British Columbia take immediate steps To Begin addressing the issues raised in this report. To this end, many of our recommendations include practical solutions that can be readily implemented in the days, months and years ahead.”

    Immediate steps? To Begin? Readily implemented in the days, months and years ahead? How does such language imply any sense of urgency? Or logic?

    The document is dated April 30, 2018. Just in time to offer no immediately implemented way forward to control floods, drought or forest fires. All three in sequence? That’s what we saw, without immediate steps.

    Tell me if this is correct? Lack of available water stored in trees and in the ground desiccates entire regions and turns them into kindling. Why not create large local regional underground reservoirs, from seasonal rains, river water and lake diversion, and especially storm runoff?

    Why not use these reservoirs to top up local water tables, for agriculture, to refresh nearby timber stands? Or provide drinking water during droughts? In short why not help de-desiccate a region, reduce risk of fires there, and maintain a ready supply of water to fight those fires which do occur?.

    There are bureaucracies throughout the world which have side-stepped the temptation to indulge in self-praising and patronizing “consultations” and focus instead on solutions acceptable to a population. As in, here’s some ideas: how about we do this starting now?

    Has anyone seen such options put forward anywhere here in BC?

    Please advise…

  7. E. Random

    Took your advice “r”.

    However, there are no recommendations in the Summary below on water use, nothing on forest fires, nothing on community water retention, nothing on the Wildfire Ministry, or what it should be doing. Nothing on SiteC, nothing on LNG.

    Who specifically is supposed to be enlightened by your post? And how?

    There is nothing in the Hydro Summary that Rafe Mair and Norman Farrell haven’t already made public years ago and nothing in Hydro’s various abuses of the public purse that have not been ridiculed by Hydro’s former CEO Marc Eliesen [see below].. and Rafe and Norman and so on.

    Page 6? The PDF page is blank.

    You don’t seem either to have made a point or have a point to make. What happened?

    “Summary”

    “The five year comparison shows that despite a strong economy and significant population growth, the increase in electricity sales of Domestic electricity has lagged considerably. B.C. Hydro has been forced to pay significantly more for private power generation, and curtailed generation from its own dams to accommodate the increase in privately generated electricity.”

    ”The public power utility as been spending heavily on capital projects and the low interest rates have helped to keep the debt service costs relatively low.”

    “The abuse of the deferral accounts has allowed the government to set electricity rates well below the cost of generation, transmission and distribution.”

    Contrast the Hydro Summary with this..

    https://thenarwhal.ca/exclusive-site-c-dam-devastating-british-columbians-says-former-ceo-bc-hydro

    “Eliesen, an economist by training, has also served as chairman and CEO of Ontario Hydro, chairman of Manitoba Hydro and has held senior roles with the federal government and the governments of Ontario and Manitoba. In November, Eliesen called the National Energy Board’s review process for the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline “fraudulent” and a “public deception” as he dropped out of the process.”

  8. kennylad

    Hi Laila, i will give it a go here. What i find most shameful about this, is the systemic, it’s okay to lie, deceive and cheat ones way into government office. I personally believe wholeheartedly that John Horgan put out a very good campaign of deception, that Site C would be stopped. When in power all of the studies and evidence presented to him and government was against it proceeding, yet he caved in to the special interests that was in the cards all along, and even stabbed his partner Andrew Weaver and company, and the majority in the back when they gave the NDP their all in backing them to govern. I believe Horgan had planned all along to continue with Site C. The studies and going to the BCUC was all a waste. A big waste of tax dollars built on lies and deception.
    Secondly, to have seen photos of now Energy Minister Michelle Mungal protesting with the courageous Paddle for the Peace folks and showing her position against the project is so disgraceful and hypocritical given the job she took after the election and then backed the project. It’s to bad we don’t have a better system of checks and balances to have these types of politicians removed from office. But Horgan is the worst, because he’s the leader. I don’t have any ideas where we could make this system more accountable. Politicians seem to be getting worse. It doesn’t seem to matter who we vote in anymore.

    1. nonconfidencevote

      Perhaps Mr Weaver should put his money where his mouth is and bring this NDP govt down….with a nonconfidence vote?

      He does have that power.

      Time for another election to kick ALL these lying, self serving politicians in the gonads?

      Just a thought……

  9. Seems to be a dearth of information on Site C. Hopefully (Ha, I wish) no news is good news.
    How is the injunction proceeding?
    Are they still working the site?
    Have they located ‘bedrock’ yet?
    So many questions, so few answers.

    1. Laila Yuile

      Funny timing my friend 🙂 Just posted a new blog.

      No they have never been looking for real bedrock and recently admitted they intend to build on the shale, using it for anchor ( good luck with that, water still works its way down shear zones and is capable of splitting that shale apart. Anyone is welcome to disprove that if they can, but they won’t.

  10. kennylad

    OMG are they really doing this. Wanting to anchor to the shale zone. I’m lost for words. Insanity maybe. So many points of no return that can be points of return to stop this white elephant of Horgan’s special interests, but this is beyond the pale. The arrogance and stubborness and outright negligence is out of this world. It’s a crime what’s going on.

    1. nonconfidencevote

      I’m not an engineer.
      Time after time over the years I have been consulted to come up with solutions to engineering screw ups.in construction.

      I’m sure this “Dam” will eventually fail or be decommissioned due to endless , expensive “repairs”.
      Time will tell but it does seem inevitable.
      The “perfect” scenario?
      A Spring and Summer of torrential rains and then a massive earthquake should do it….
      Unfortunately all the politicians that were to blame for this financial and environmental disaster will be either long gone from office enjoying their taxpayer funded , ridiculously generous, govt pensions or deceased from natural causes ( hopefully from choking on food while gorging themselves at another lobbyist funded campaign rally).
      Either way.
      The cost and blame will be foisted upon future generations that had no say in this fiasco.
      Criminal doesnt even begin to describe what is happening.

  11. kennylad

    Hi Laila, just read the former BC Hydro engineer’s concerns you posted regarding the dams safety in relation to the ground stability. It’s insane. With a message like this, from a top tier professional like this engineer, then all the more reason for a heavy investigation and right quick before things go to far. Dam those negligent politicians too.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s