Posts

UNESCO calls urgently on Canada to protect Wood Buffalo National Park

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 6 2016

New draft decision calls on Canada to conduct a proper assessment of Site C dam and make good on earlier promises.

June 5, 2017, FORT MCMURRAY – The UN’s World Heritage Committee is preparing to push Canada for immediate action to better protect Wood Buffalo National Park following Friday’s release of a strong decision proposed for the 40th session of the World Heritage Committee this summer.

The draft decision calls on Canada to, by February 1 2018, have made progress towards fully implementing all 17 of the recommendations from the fall 2016 UNESCO mission to Wood Buffalo National Park. This includes finally conducting a proper assessment of the downstream impacts of the Site C dam and developing concrete mechanisms to improve water governance for the Peace Athabasca Delta. The draft decision also urges Canada to make good on its promise to develop a major Action Plan for ensuring the Wood Buffalo’s protection and to move more quickly to develop and implement that Action Plan. The absence of a timely action by Canada will result in Wood Buffalo National Park being relegated to the list of World Heritage in Danger.

“Once again the international community is calling on Canada to safeguard Wood Buffalo National Park against encroaching industrial pressures. It’s time for Canada to immediately implement UNESCO’s recommendations and start protecting the Peace Athabasca Delta,” said Mikisew Chief Steve Courtoreille.

“The UNESCO report was a wake up call for Canada. We intend to continue working with the World Heritage Committee to hold Minister McKenna to her commitment to take real action to protect this amazing area,” added Melody Lepine, Mikisew’s lead on its UNESCO petition.

Mikisew’s supporters also welcomed the draft decision.

“This decision lays out what Canada’s governments need to do to live up to their responsibilities under the UN World Heritage Convention to safeguard Wood Buffalo on behalf of the world community,” said Alison Woodley, National Director of CPAWS Parks Program. “It’s a clear message from the UN that the threats facing the park from upstream hydro-electric projects and oil sands development are unacceptable, and that Canada needs to take concerted and immediate action to save this global treasure, working in partnership with Indigenous peoples.”

“We are pleased that the World Heritage Committee is poised to strongly reaffirm its position that the Site C dam poses a threat to Wood Buffalo National Park and the Peace Athabasca Delta, and that impacts from Site C must be understood,” Says Galen Armstrong of Sierra Club BC.  “Sierra Club BC is calling on the Trudeau government to suspend its approval of Site C and order an immediate halt to construction, while Canada assesses the report’s recommendations and implements changes. In the long run Site C simply cannot be built.”

“Canada keeps saying that nothing can be done about Site C, but the World Heritage Commission isn’t buying that and neither are we,” says Candace Batycki of Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative. “The incoming BC government has committed to send Site C for assessment by the BC Utilities Commission. Meanwhile Canada is being asked to make every effort to understand the possible impacts of the Site C project on Wood Buffalo. They don’t need a legal mechanism to do that, they just need the will.”

The World Heritage Committee will vote on the draft decision at its upcoming meeting in July 2017.

For more information, visit mikisewgir.com/projects/.

For interviews with Mikisew Cree First Nation representatives:

Melody Lepine, Mikisew Cree First Nation Industry and Government Relations, 780-792-8736, melody.lepine@mcfngir.ca

For interview with environmental group representatives:

Alison Woodley, BSc, MA, CPAWS, 613-203-1172, awoodley@cpaws.org

Caleb Behn, Keepers of the Water, caleb.behn@gmail.com

Galen Armstrong, Sierra Club BC, 778-679-3191, galen@sierraclub.bc.ca

Candace Batycki, Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, 250-352-3830

The clock is ticking on Site C

The results of the BC election are finally in, and the message is clear: Almost sixty per cent of voters called for a review or cancellation of the Site C dam. Their concerns must be honoured by the incumbent government.

There is no political mandate to push the dam further. There is no economic case to push it further.

The project can still be stopped, and this reality is closer than ever. We have a government-in-waiting that has said it will review the dam.

Territory of Treaty 8 First Nations on the Peace River. Photo by Louis Bockner.

The current government has no social license to authorize BC Hydro to award new contracts. But Christy Clark may still try to push the project forward in whatever way she can.

The Boons and Meeks, farm families in the Peace, have had their evictions postponed till the end of June. But if road realignment work continues, they remain in danger of losing their homes. This work would also cause devastating and irreversible harms to First Nations’ grave sites and cultural heritage. Given the current uncertainty over Site C’s fate, BC Hydro must put a pause on these evictions and destructive activities.

In just a few short weeks, a $2 billion construction contract could be also be signed by BC Hydro, locking Hydro customers into even higher Hydro bills, even if Site C is shelved. This major contract for a generating station, powerhouse and spillways could be announced as early as July 2017, but has not yet been signed with any of the four shortlisted proponents. There have been many on-site problems and non-compliance issues. In February, a huge tension crack suddenly appeared in the slide-prone banks of the Peace River.

Yvonne Tupper of the Salteau First Nation. Photo by Louis Bockner.

Christy Clark must not allow BC Hydro to award any new dam contracts before the BC Utilities Commission concludes its review of the Site C dam.

The incoming government has committed to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the calls-to-action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Tsilhqot’in Supreme Court decision. In light of these commitments, destructive activities that harm First Nations’ heritage should be stopped immediately.

Christy Clark has lost her mandate on Site C. She needs to hear loud and clear that you’re watching and you expect her to respect the wishes of the majority of BC voters.

Sierra Club BC is working quickly with our partners to ensure that Site C remains in the spotlight and goes for a full and rigorous review of the project and alternatives. Help us keep the pressure on – donate today.

No new contracts, no evictions, while the Site C dam faces review

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 1, 2017

VANCOUVER—BC Hydro must not award any new dam contracts before the BC Utilities Commission concludes its review of the Site C dam, say a broad coalition of citizens’ and environmental groups across BC and Canada. Given the current uncertainty over Site C’s fate, BC Hydro must put a pause on evictions and damage to First Nations heritage sites.

“The incumbent government has no mandate to push Site C further, since the government-in-waiting has committed to a review of the project by the BC Utilities Commission,” stated Morag Keegan-Henry with the Lower Mainland group FightC.

A new $2 billion contract for a generating station, powerhouse and spillways was expected in 2017, but has not yet been signed with any of the four shortlisted proponents. There have been many on-site problems and non-compliance issues. In February, for example, a huge tension crack suddenly appeared in the slide-prone banks of the Peace River. The river is named after a historical peace agreement between the Cree and Dunneza peoples of Treaty 8 territory.

“BC Hydro could make a ‘business as usual’ announcement about the $2 billion contract as early as July 2017. This is something that the NDP and the Greens must prevent,” according to George Smith with the Alliance 4 Democracy on the Sunshine Coast. “This white elephant must be stopped in its expensive, wasteful tracks.”

The Boon and Meek families in the Peace have had their evictions postponed till the end of June, but if road realignment work continues, they remain in danger of losing their homes. “Multi-generational farm families still face eviction this summer under the dam’s rushed timelines,” said Andrea Morison of the Peace Valley Environment Association. “No one should be evicted from their homes until the BCUC has completed its work.”

Craig Benjamin of Amnesty International pointed out, “Even if the BCUC review is expedited, devastating harms to farming families and First Nations will still result unless the dam’s planned schedule is suspended during the review. In particular, no activities should be permitted that would cause irreversible harm to First Nations’ grave sites and other cultural heritage.”

“Given the incoming government’s commitment to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the calls-to-action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Tsilhqot’in Supreme Court decision, First Nations’ concerns must be honoured,” added Joe Foy of the Wilderness Committee.  “BC Hydro should suspend activities that are destructive to the Peace River Valley.”

“As the province moves forward with the BC Utilities Commission review, activities on the dam site should be limited to environmental monitoring and addressing impacts such as those related to minimizing silt leakage, sedimentation, and slope stability,” suggested Candace Batycki, Program Director of the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative.

“The current government has no social license to authorize BC Hydro to award new contracts,” said Tim Pearson of Sierra Club BC. “The results of the election clearly show the voters have serious concerns about Site C, and those concerns must be honoured by the incumbent government.”

-30-

For more information contact:

George Smith, Alliance 4 Democracy  604.989.5094

Andrea Morison, Peace Valley Environment Association  250.793.7279

Joe Foy, National Campaign Director, Wilderness Committee  604.880.2580

Tim Pearson, Communications Director, Sierra Club BC  250.896.1556

Document: Media release

Groups send open letter to party leaders calling for immediate pause on Site C dam

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 18, 2017

VANCOUVER – In an open letter sent today to all recently elected MLAs and their party leaders, several non-government organizations and citizen groups are urging them to pause construction on the Site C dam and have the project thoroughly assessed by the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC).

The popular vote numbers show over half the voters in the province supported either the BC NDP, who stated they would bring the project to the BCUC for review or the BC Greens, who stated that they’d stop the project immediately.

“The homes of multi-generational farm families are hanging in the balance as we speak,” said Joe Foy, National Campaign Director for the Wilderness Committee. “The first two homes are at risk of being destroyed if action is not taken soon.  It’s not a stretch to say that given the uncertainty of the election outcome at this time, it is simply unjust to proceed with this level of irreversible damage.”

“We don’t need to spend anywhere near $9 billion on energy infrastructure right now, even BC Hydro stated we may not need the amount of power that Site C would provide for up to 40 years from now.  It makes more sense to take that public money and build much needed public infrastructure throughout the province:  like hospitals, schools, water treatment plants, affordable housing and daycares.  Projects that all British Columbians need now,” states Andrea Morrison, Executive Director for the Peace Valley Environment Association.

Not only are the farm families bracing themselves for imminent destruction of their homes, but First Nations are also deeply concerned about the road realignment work planned in the coming weeks, which will destroy a grave site and significant archaeological sites. The West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations along with the Peace Valley Landowner Association have requested the results of the Multiple Accounts Analysis that justifies why this particular highway route was chosen over other options, but BC Hydro has not released the document.

“Now is the perfect time for the elected representatives of all parties in BC to show that they are listening to the electorate by addressing Site C before any more irreversible harm is caused by the project,” says Galen Armstrong, Peace Valley  Campaigner for  Sierra Club BC.  “When people’s homes and ancestors’ grave sites hang in the balance, the time for action by the parties is now.  Our elected representatives have a huge responsibility and this is a perfect opportunity to demonstrate that they will honour the faith that the people of BC have put in them.”

–30–

For more information, please contact:

Joe Foy | National Campaign Director, Wilderness Committee
604-880-2580

Galen Armstrong | Peace Valley Campaigner, Sierra Club BC
778-679-3191


DOCUMENT: 
Open Letter to Hon. Christy Clark, John Horgan & Andrew Weaver

Kids Need Nature, Nature Needs Kids

By James Davis, Education Program Manager

May 2017

I feel fortunate and grateful that I was able to attend the annual Children & Nature Network International Conference & Summit in Vancouver last month.  The conference was attended by over 900 delegates from Canada, the United States, and more than 20 other countries.

This year marked the first time that the conference has taken place outside of the U.S.  It was held on the unceded territories of the Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.  Here are some of my highlights from the gathering:

At the opening reception on Tuesday evening I was blown away by Ta’Kaiya Blaney of Tla’Amin First Nation, who received standing ovations after both her inspiring speech and her musical performance.

The Wednesday morning keynote address by Gil Penalosa from 8 80 Cities acknowledged that change is hard and that doing more of the same is easier, but helped us to imagine what our cities would be like if we designed them with both an 8-year-old and an 80-year-old in mind.

Photo by Adina Appenheimer.

Lauraleigh Paul, First Nations Ecology Programmer at Stanley Park Ecology Society, reminded us that if we want to connect our spirits to the spirit of the land, we need to turn to the traditional knowledge keepers who have been in relationship with the land for generations.

I was honoured to meet Joe Akerman and Hwiemtun (Fred Roland) and learn about the Xwaaqw’um Project, a Coast Salish cultural learning hub that they are leading on Saltspring Island.  Joe invited us to move beyond being allies to our First Nations brothers and sisters and to become accomplices.

On Thursday I attended a valuable workshop led by staff from Youth Outside and Education Outside, two fantastic organizations in the Bay Area, about their programs that create opportunities in nature for underrepresented communities.

This focus on diversity, equity and inclusion continued on Friday during the “Grappling with Bias for More Inclusive Youth Programs” workshop that I took part in, which was facilitated by Ava and Aparna from The Avarna Group.  Their website provides a plethora of rich resources.

Keynote speaker Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, said some kind words about our recently retired Executive Director, Bob Peart, and his contribution to the movement in Canada.  He also confronted the enormity of the challenge that we face, admitting that the child and nature movement will not be able to reach everyone, but affirmed that each child that we reach will count.

There were many other inspiring individuals that I had the honour of connecting with over the course of the conference.  I left feeling reinvigorated and even more committed to doing what I can to help children and youth across the province spend more time outside, building a relationship with their natural surroundings!

 

Feature image by Robin Thorneycroft.

120,000 Canadians call for immediate action to protect the environment and human rights from disastrous impacts of the Site C dam

27 April 2017

Citizens’ groups, Indigenous peoples, human rights and environmental organizations are asking British Columbia MPs to take a message to Ottawa.

BC MPs Elizabeth May and Kennedy Stewart with Grand Chief Stewart Philip and environmental groups. Photo courtesy of Amnesty Canada.

“British Columbia’s Site C dam is one of the largest megaprojects of our generation,” said Andrea Morison, Executive Director of the Peace Valley Environment Association. “Our political leaders cannot continue to ignore the devastating impacts it will have on our waters and on the rights of Indigenous peoples.”

More than 120,000 people have signed petitions, postcards and letters calling for an immediate halt to construction. Petitions were presented to BC MPs today as they prepared to return to the House of Commons after a Parliamentary break.

Organizers included Amnesty International Canada, Leadnow, Sierra Club BC, the Peace Valley Environment Association, KAIROS, Keepers of the Water, Peace Valley Landowners Association, Alliance4Democracy and the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative.

They are calling on parliamentarians of all parties to press for clear answers as to why the Site C dam is still going ahead despite established harm to the natural environment, farmlands, and the rights of Indigenous peoples.

Last week, a detailed study published by the University of British Columbia Program on Water Governance concluded that proceeding with Site C would be “uneconomic”, since future electricity demand will be much lower than BC Hydro had stated during the review process, the cost of the project will be higher than previously estimated, and the cost of alternative sources of energy would be lower.

Sierra Club BC Peace Valley Campaigner Galen Armstrong. Photo courtesy of Amnesty Canada.

Candace Batycki of the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative said, “Even before Site C was approved, the environmental assessment process raised serious doubts about the claimed economic benefits that supposedly justified the terrible harm that would be done by flooding the Peace Valley. Now that this report from UBC has declared Site C uneconomic, it’s clearly time for both levels of government to give this project some sober second thought.”

The federal government has acknowledged that it approved the Site C dam without consideration of whether doing so was consistent with their legal obligations under Treaty 8, which protects the right of the Cree and Dane-Zaa to use their traditional lands. Despite a series of judicial reviews of the approval of Site C, Canadian courts have yet to render a verdict on this fundamental question.

“Site C is a disaster in the making,” said Brittany Smith, campaigner at Leadnow. “Canadians deserve to know why our governments have continued to back such a harmful and costly project in the face of serious, unresolved legal challenges from First Nations.”

The Site C dam also seriously threatens water flows in the Peace-Athabasca Delta, part of Wood Buffalo National Park. A recent UNESCO report strongly criticized Canada for failing to protect the park. The country’s largest World Heritage Site risks being added to the List of World Heritage in Danger unless the Canadian government acts immediately to address these threats, which endanger the ability of the Mikisew Cree to practice their way of life.

“The UNESCO report shows the Site C dam should have never been approved in the first place. Now, it is damaging the relationship between First Nations and Canadian society,” said Galen Armstrong, Peace Valley Campaigner for Sierra Club BC. “It is time for the federal government to stop abdicating its responsibility and immediately suspend its approval of Site C.”

Grand Chief Stewart Philip of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. Photo courtesy of Amnesty Canada.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs said, “The future of Site C has become a hot topic in the current provincial election. Whoever forms the next provincial government after May 9th, it is going to be very hard for them to continue ignoring the impact of this unnecessary megaproject. The missing piece is for the federal government to break its silence on this crucial issue.”

Jennifer Henry, Executive Director of KAIROS, said, “Our organizations are grateful to the Members of Parliament who have already spoken out on Site C. We hope that MPs of all parties will agree that a project that is of such concern to so many Canadians deserves closer scrutiny.”

This week at a United Nations meeting on the rights of Indigenous peoples, the federal Minister of Indigenous Affairs Carolyn Bennett once again repeated her government’s promise to fully uphold the rights of Indigenous peoples recognized in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including the right of Indigenous peoples to say no to unwanted development on their lands.

Craig Benjamin, who is attending the UN meeting on behalf of Amnesty International,  said, “The federal government has never explained how it can reconcile its claims to champion the rights of Indigenous peoples on the world stage while turning its back on those same rights in the Peace Valley.”

 

Tell Prime Minister Trudeau to honour his promises to First Nations and suspend approval of Site C:

120,000 Canadians call for immediate action to protect the environment and human rights from disastrous impacts of the Site C dam

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

27 April 2017

Citizens’ groups, Indigenous peoples, human rights and environmental organizations are asking British Columbia MPs to take a message to Ottawa.

“British Columbia’s Site C dam is one of the largest megaprojects of our generation,” said Andrea Morison, Executive Director of the Peace Valley Environment Association. “Our political leaders cannot continue to ignore the devastating impacts it will have on our waters and on the rights of Indigenous peoples.”

More than 120,000 people have signed petitions, postcards and letters calling for an immediate halt to construction. Petitions were presented to BC MPs today as they prepared to return to the House of Commons after a Parliamentary break.

Organizers included Amnesty International Canada, Leadnow, Sierra Club BC, the Peace Valley Environment Association, KAIROS, Keepers of the Water, Peace Valley Landowners Association, Alliance4Democracy and the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative.

They are calling on parliamentarians of all parties to press for clear answers as to why the Site C dam is still going ahead despite established harm to the natural environment, farmlands, and the rights of Indigenous peoples.

Last week, a detailed study published by the University of British Columbia Program on Water Governance concluded that proceeding with Site C would be “uneconomic”, since future electricity demand will be much lower than BC Hydro had stated during the review process, the cost of the project will be higher than previously estimated, and the cost of alternative sources of energy would be lower.

Candace Batycki of the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative said, “Even before Site C was approved, the environmental assessment process raised serious doubts about the claimed economic benefits that supposedly justified the terrible harm that would be done by flooding the Peace Valley. Now that this report from UBC has declared Site C uneconomic, it’s clearly time for both levels of government to give this project some sober second thought.”

The federal government has acknowledged that it approved the Site C dam without consideration of whether doing so was consistent with their legal obligations under Treaty 8, which protects the right of the Cree and Dane-Zaa to use their traditional lands. Despite a series of judicial reviews of the approval of Site C, Canadian courts have yet to render a verdict on this fundamental question.

“Site C is a disaster in the making,” said Brittany Smith, campaigner at Leadnow. “Canadians deserve to know why our governments have continued to back such a harmful and costly project in the face of serious, unresolved legal challenges from First Nations.”

The Site C dam also seriously threatens water flows in the Peace-Athabasca Delta, part of Wood Buffalo National Park. A recent UNESCO report strongly criticized Canada for failing to protect the park. The country’s largest World Heritage Site risks being added to the List of World Heritage in Danger unless the Canadian government acts immediately to address these threats, which endanger the ability of the Mikisew Cree to practice their way of life.

“The UNESCO report shows the Site C dam should have never been approved in the first place. Now, it is damaging the relationship between First Nations and Canadian society,” said Galen Armstrong, Peace Valley Campaigner for Sierra Club BC. “It is time for the federal government to stop abdicating its responsibility and immediately suspend its approval of Site C.”

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs said, “The future of Site C has become a hot topic in the current provincial election. Whoever forms the next provincial government after May 9th, it is going to be very hard for them to continue ignoring the impact of this unnecessary megaproject. The missing piece is for the federal government to break its silence on this crucial issue.”

Jennifer Henry, Executive Director of KAIROS, said, “Our organizations are grateful to the Members of Parliament who have already spoken out on Site C. We hope that MPs of all parties will agree that a project that is of such concern to so many Canadians deserves closer scrutiny.”

This week at a United Nations meeting on the rights of Indigenous peoples, the federal Minister of Indigenous Affairs Carolyn Bennett once again repeated her government’s promise to fully uphold the rights of Indigenous peoples recognized in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including the right of Indigenous peoples to say no to unwanted development on their lands.

Craig Benjamin, who is attending the UN meeting on behalf of Amnesty International,  said, “The federal government has never explained how it can reconcile its claims to champion the rights of Indigenous peoples on the world stage while turning its back on those same rights in the Peace Valley.”

 

Contact:

Galen Armstrong, Peace Valley Campaigner

Sierra Club BC

Cell: 778-679-3191

 

Jacob Kuehn, Media Relations

Amnesty International Canada

613-744-7667 ext. 236

5 short videos that explain the Site C dam boondoggle

What’s the deal with the Site C dam?

Here’s the situation in the simplest terms: the government wants to put a huge, unnecessary dam on a major river, and it’s a really, really bad idea.

Here’s a little more detail: the BC government and BC Hydro (BC’s publicly-owned electricity utility) have started construction on an earthfill dam called Site C in Northeastern BC, near Fort St. John. Flooding of the valley is slated to start in 2021. With less than $2 billion spent so far, it’s much smarter to stop the project now, rather than letting costs balloon to between $9 and $17 billion.

Here are five short videos that help explain how the BC government got us into this mess, and why we need to stop this dam in its tracks:

  1. BC HAS A SURPLUS OF ELECTRICITY. This DeSmog Canada video answers the question, “What is the Site C dam?” Dr. Harry Swain, former chair of the Joint Review Panel on Site C, explains how BC doesn’t need Site C power and won’t need it for a very long time.

Cutting Through the Spin on the Site C Dam

Last week DeSmog Canada published a video about the Site C dam that — after generating nearly 120,000 views in 36 hours — was suddenly removed by Facebook due to a complaint filed by a B.C. government contractor. Fear not, we've done a new cut. This is the video they didn't want you to see. Read more about the complaint: http://bit.ly/2fdejyn

Posted by DeSmog Canada on Wednesday, November 2, 2016

 

  1. FIRST NATIONS HAVE RIGHTS. Indigenous poet, writer and activist Helen Knott speaks about what Treaty 8 First Nations stand to lose if the Site C dam is completed in this Amnesty Canada video. First Nations are fighting the dam in court, and the federal and provincial governments are pretending not to hear.

 

    1. BRITISH COLUMBIANS CAN’T AFFORD TO SUBSIDIZE CORPORATIONS. At this point, you might still be wondering why the government is pushing the dam ahead if it’s such a terrible idea. This Sierra Club BC video shows how the dam is part of the BC government’s plan for a $9 billion handout to fracking and LNG companies, with hydro customers footing the bill.

Hydro Bill Madness

Your BC Hydro bill is going up so Kinder Morgan and Petronas' PNW fracked gas plant can have cheap power. TELL YOUR CANDIDATES: end the handouts, STOP the Site C dam: actionsprout.io/62C809

Posted by Sierra Club BC on Monday, March 27, 2017

 

  1. PEOPLE NEED FOOD TO EAT. Agrologist Wendy Holm found that Peace River Valley farmland could feed more than one million people (nearly a quarter of BC’s population). In this Little River Productions clip, Wendy also discusses the NAWAPA theory that the dam is part of a continental water sharing plan for bulk water exports to the US.

 

 

  1. IT’S NOT TOO LATE TO STOP THIS DAM. Former BC Premier Mike Harcourt tells DeSmog Canada it’s better to cut our losses at $2 billion rather than go bankrupt (BC Hydro already has $76 billion in debt).

 

Site C Dam an ‘Economic Disaster’: Former Premier

The Site C dam is an “economic disaster” that could end up costing B.C. more than $15 billion, according to former Premier Mike Harcourt in this new video interview. Rather than wasting money on power we don't need, Harcourt says B.C. should cut its losses and get building infrastructure we DO need like schools, transit lines and bridges. What do you think?Read more on DeSmog Canada: http://bit.ly/SiteCDisasterDon’t miss out: http://bit.ly/DeSmogNewsLearn more about the Site C dam: https://www.desmog.ca/site-c-dam-bc

Posted by DeSmog Canada on Thursday, March 2, 2017

 

TAKE ACTION: SITE C THREATENS A WORLD HERITAGE SITE. Site C not only threatens the Peace River Valley, but it also threatens Canada’s largest World Heritage Site: Wood Buffalo National Park and the Peace Athabasca Delta. UNESCO is urging the Canadian Government to do an environmental and social impact assessment of the Site C project. Please take action by telling Prime Minister Trudeau to halt the dam construction and do a proper assessment:

Facebooktwittermail

UNESCO: Site C Dam Threatens Canada’s largest World Heritage Site

March 2017

Canada has failed to protect its largest World Heritage Site. Based upon a process initiated by Sierra Club BC, UNESCO visited the Peace River Valley in the fall of 2016 to investigate how the Site C dam endangers Wood Buffalo National Park. On March 10, 2017, UNESCO released its report from the ten-day monitoring mission. The report strongly criticizes Canada and suggests the park risks the embarrassment of joining the list of UNESCO’s List of World Heritage in Danger.

The report notes that impacts on the park from development are “far more complex and severe than previously thought” and includes 17 recommendations for Canada. Canada is being given “one opportunity under the World Heritage Convention to immediately develop a structured and adequately funded response” to address the threats the Park is facing from:

  • Fractured relationships between the governments and Indigenous peoples who live on the land
  • The proposed Site C hydroelectric dam
  • Oil sands projects, contaminated rivers and wildlife
  • Lack of conservation capacity and focus by Parks Canada
  • Systemic regulatory failure to control industrial development in a manner that protects this World Heritage Site
  • Human health concerns

Peace River. Photo by Louis Bockner.

The report concluded that anything less than a “major and timely” response to these recommendations would “constitute a case for recommending inscription of Wood Buffalo National Park on the List of World Heritage in Danger.”

The fact-finding mission was prompted by a petition from the Mikisew Cree First Nation in December 2014 to have the park added to UNESCO’s List of World Heritage in Danger.

“We agree with the report’s finding. We brought our petition to UNESCO because our way of life is tied to the Peace-Athabasca Delta and Canada’s failure to protect this important area has put our people at risk. Canada needs to respond quickly and strongly to implement the report’s recommendations because the Delta doesn’t have much time,” says Mikisew Chief Steve Courtoreille.

Melody Lepine, Mikisew’s lead for the UNESCO petition, added, “This report confirms what Mikisew elders have been saying for years. Canada may have ignored the Peace-Athabasca Delta and the Mikisew Cree in the past, but now the world will be watching. It’s time for Canada to start working with us to protect the Delta.”

Mikisew’s petition has been supported by former Parks Canada officials, leading scientists, indigenous groups and numerous non-governmental organizations, many of whom participated in the reactive monitoring mission including Sierra Club BC, CPAWS Northern Alberta Chapter and Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative.

Peace River. Photo: Don Hoffman

“We applaud the report’s unequivocal conclusion that dams on the Peace River are putting this World Heritage Site at risk,” said Caleb Behn, Executive Director of the Keepers of the Water. “The mission experts looked at evidence from all perspectives and came to the conclusion that governments aren’t properly protecting the rivers that create this unique delta. The world is saying Canada has one chance to do better.”

The report is clear that Canada hasn’t lived up to its promises to protect the outstanding universal values in Wood Buffalo National Park. Now the future of Canada’s largest inland delta is, in the words of the report, “uncertain at the very best.” Will Wood Buffalo National Park remain an object of national pride, or will it become a symbol of the impacts runaway development and disrespect for indigenous lifeways have on nature and culture? Only strong leadership and action can prevent an international embarrassment.

This damning report also demonstrates the Trudeau government should never have allowed any approvals for the Site C megadam in the first place. Sierra Club BC is calling on the Trudeau government to suspend its approval of Site C and order an immediate halt to construction, while Canada assesses the report’s recommendations and implements changes. In the long run Site C simply cannot be built.

We need you to call on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to halt construction on the Site C Dam immediately while the federal government assesses the potential impacts of the dam, and of tar sands development, on Wood Buffalo National Park.

Please donate today so that Sierra Club BC can continue to defend BC’s wild places.

 

Feature image by Jorgen Schyberg

The Site C dam fight: what keeps me going

By Galen Armstrong, Peace Valley Campaigner

March 2, 2017

Working for change can be tough. Last night I was on the phone with a hard-working volunteer, and she was feeling the pain underlying our mission to stop the Site C dam before the flooding begins, which is set to start in 2022.

Galen with photographer Louis Bockner (credit) and Peace Valley farmers Ken and Arlene Boon.

We were preparing to make outreach phone calls to new volunteers to ask them to join us at a weekly canvass. During a canvass, we talk to strangers on the street and tell them what a huge mistake the Site C dam is, and that it will impact each of us financially via our hydro bills—especially if we don’t cut our losses and stop it.

Last night, this volunteer wanted to talk about the grief she was feeling as she thought about the families who are literally facing the loss of their homes. The land of farmers Ken and Arlene Boon has already been expropriated, though they are allowed to remain in their farmhouse until May—just two months from now.

So we talked about it. We recognized that there’s a lot of grief in all of this. I can’t imagine how it must feel for the Boons, or for Yvonne Tupper or Julian Napoleon or other members of First Nations living near the Peace River Valley. We each have our own experience of what’s happening, and what could happen.

Last fall when I visited the Peace, I met a couple named Caroline and Derek, and their three boys. Recently, Caroline sent me this video of their oldest son, 12-year-old Xavier, who is facing the fact that his family’s home, which sits right next to the Peace River, will be lost if the dam isn’t stopped.

It’s important to recognize how hard this all is. For me, thinking of the people who are most directly facing the consequences of the Site C dam is what motivates me to keep going. Even when they’re people I haven’t met.

It’s not the only thing that motivates me—there is also the loss of species and ecosystems, the loss of culture, the loss of heritage, the loss of prime agricultural land, the impact on British Columbians everywhere who struggle to pay their bills—but these faces and their stories hit me in a uniquely visceral way.

The Beam family. Photo by Louis Bockner.

Even if it sometimes feels like the odds are stacked against us, I know what we are doing makes a difference, and I know it’s possible to stop the dam. I remember when the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline was approved by the federal government, and still it was stopped. It can be the same with the Site C dam.

So we took a little time last night to discuss those hard feelings, and then we got back to work. We called new potential volunteers. Some weren’t home. Some said “sorry, I can’t help.” And some said they would be there to join us on Monday, on Thursday, on Saturday.

I want to encourage everyone to take time to feel those hard feelings, and reach out for support when you need it. Then let’s shift that pain and sadness into anger and action. Let’s have it motivate us to work even harder to make a difference.

We need people to help make phone calls, to write letters to the editor, and to join us in the streets. Sign up to join our team of canvassers and volunteers—if we all do our part, we can not only stop the dam, we can stop the pain and suffering of families in the Peace Valley.

Please take action to stop the dam by sending a letter to the federal government and consider making a donation to Sierra Club BC. If you want to get more involved, you can always send me an email.

Thank you for everything you’ve already done, and that you’re doing now. It matters.