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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

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:

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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

BC communities say no to Site C Dam

By Galen Armstrong

December 1, 2016

Momentum is heating up across the province on Site C – and we’ve been tapping into it like never before with our Great Site C Roadshow.

In the span of just one month, eleven Site C awareness events were held in communities across British Columbia. From the Kootenays to the Cariboo, from the Okanagan to Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, hundreds of citizens turned out to learn how we can work together to stop Site C Dam.

I want to thank every person who showed up, volunteered, spoke, donated, organized, and promoted these events in your community. I’d also like to thank our local partners including Yellowstone2Yukon Initiative, the Council of Canadians – Duncan Chapter, and the Sea to Sands Conservation Alliance.

We are inspired by this show of solidarity for Treaty 8 First Nations who are fighting the dam in court and for the farmers who are facing eviction from their lands. This dam is far from being past the point of no return, and we are energized by the knowledge that so many are standing together to stop Site C. In fact, over 70% of British Columbians now say they want construction paused for an independent review and investigation of alternatives.

Here are some of our favourite highlights from the Great Site C Roadshow.

Credit Louis Bockner

Louis Bockner showing a photography slideshow

In Nelson, Argenta and Kaslo, photographer Louis Bockner and I shared stories and photos from our recent trip to the Peace Valley. Major thanks to these communities for helping us raise over $3,000 for Treaty 8 First Nations’ legal challenges to the dam!

Credit Monica Lamb-Yorski

Credit Monica Lamb-Yorski

In Williams Lake, Quesnel and Prince George, Sierra Club BC’s Ana Simeon shared a panel with Yvonne Tupper of the Saulteau First Nation and Ben Parfitt of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Yvonne spoke of the importance of protecting Treaty 8 territory while Ben explained the disastrous bills that B.C. ratepayers will be faced with should the project proceed.

Julian Napoleon of Saulteau First Nation

Julian Napoleon

I would like to say a special thanks to Julian Napoleon of the Saulteau First Nation and the Working Group on Indigenous Food Sovereignty. Julian spoke passionately at six events across the province on the importance of protecting traditional territories and food systems.

Briony Penn speaking on Site C

Briony Penn speaking on Site C

Just last night, I spoke at an event on Salt Spring Island with author Briony Penn. Briony spoke about the impact of dams on people, flora and fauna. She also said that there should be an inquiry into government coercion of First Nations decision making processes.

It’s not too late to stop Site C. We’re building a plan to focus international attention on Ottawa to stop the dam and to make Site C a provincial election issue. Please chip in today to help us win.

Thank you.

Feature image by Louis Bockner.

Journey to the Peace Valley

By Galen Armstrong, Peace Valley Campaigner

November 2, 2016

About a month ago, I was asked to take up the mantle of Sierra Club BC’s Peace Valley Campaigner with the big goal of stopping the Site C dam (alongside many allies). The first thing I wanted to do was visit the Peace River Valley—to see it for myself for the first time, and to meet the people who have worked the longest and hardest to stop the incredibly foolish megadam proposal.

So I made a few arrangements and soon I was on the road. After a two-day drive through fall colours, I was in the spectacular Peace River Valley.

Yvonne Tupper of Saulteau First Nation. Photo by Louis Bockner.

Yvonne Tupper of Saulteau First Nation. Photo by Louis Bockner.

I spent a week in the area meeting First Nations and other community members, farmers and fellow activists. At the end of each day my mind was overflowing with information and I felt ever more disgusted that this project was even able to make it past the idea phase.

I met with Yvonne Tupper, a member of Saulteau First Nation. She welcomed me onto her Nation’s land and invited me to fish with her on Moberly Lake. West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations are fighting Site C in court, and we are fundraising to support their efforts to assert their rights, which should be protected by Treaty 8.

Site C dam construction camp. Photo by Louis Bockner.

Site C dam construction camp. Photo by Louis Bockner.

Local pilot Bob Fedderly took me on a flyover of the Site C dam worksite. The white structure in the upper-right of the photo is the $470 million work camp. What we saw is ugly, but it’s far from being a dam. They’ve done some logging, they’ve built the camp, and they’ve brought in machinery. But, as many locals monitoring the project reminded us, it’s nowhere near the “point of no return.”

Site C dam construction. Photo by Louis Bockner.

Site C dam construction. Photo by Louis Bockner.

Fedderly, who has watched the project slowly creep along, explained that the excavators we saw below were struggling day after day to secure slipping and eroding silt banks. It’s obviously an uphill battle. Landslides have been occurring on an increasingly frequent basis in the area over the past two years, sending toxic heavy metals into the river and putting nearby homes at risk. Many residents are worried that the dam will further destabilize the area.

This beautiful topsoil is much better suited for growing food. Agrologist Wendy Holm estimates that the Peace River Valley, which is rare Class-1 farmland (the best), could grow enough food to feed over one million people. But not if the valley is flooded, of course.

Arlene and Ken Boon with Stakes for the Peace. Photo by Louis Bockner.

Arlene and Ken Boon with stakes for the Peace. Photo by Louis Bockner.

I spent the week at the farm of Ken and Arlene Boon. The Boons were given the deadline of October 31, 2016 to reach an agreement with BC Hydro to sell their land and allow a new highway to pass directly through their farm and farmhouse. For now, they are fundraising for the First Nations legal challenge to Site C. They are offering to drive a yellow stake with your name on it into their front yard for every $100 donated. Learn more and plant a stake!

There are many more stories to share from my trip to the Peace Valley. I gave presentations in the Kootenays, where we raised $3000 for the legal challenges. Thank you Argenta, Kaslo, Nelson and Revelstoke! All the photos in this blog were taken by my travel buddy Louis Bockner, and you can see more on his Facebook page.

Please help Louis and I to take our photos, stories and Site C-stopping strategy across the province. We need the entire province to know what’s going on and demand the project be stopped. It’s not too late, but it is urgent!

If you would like to organize an event, contact me at galen@sierraclub.bc.ca. Donations are appreciated – in fact, we can’t travel without them. Learn more, sign our petition and please donate today to help us stop this dam project.

– Galen Armstrong, Sierra Club BC Peace Valley Campaigner

The Great Site C Roadshow

The Great Site C Roadshow is on tour with eleven stops across B.C.!

Please join us in your town for a gathering full of inspiration, solidarity and action for the Peace Valley. Learn why Treaty 8 First Nations and Peace Valley farmers are standing strong for the Peace, and how we can support them to stop Site C. Speakers from the Saulteau First Nation and from Sierra Club BC will be joined along the way by a roster of inspiring advocates for the Peace Valley.

October 26 – Argenta  7:00PM (6:30 silent auction)
Argenta Community Hall  Facebook event
Julian Napoleon, Saulteau First Nation and Working Group on Indigenous Food Sovereignty
Galen Armstrong, Sierra Club BC
Louis Bockner, Photographer

October 27 – Kaslo  7:00PM (6:30 silent auction)
The Langham, 447 A Ave.  Facebook event
Julian Napoleon, Saulteau First Nation and Working Group on Indigenous Food Sovereignty
Galen Armstrong, Sierra Club BC
Louis Bockner, Photographer

October 28 – Nelson  6:00PM
Nelson United Church, 602 Silica St.  Facebook event
Julian Napoleon, Saulteau First Nation and Working Group on Indigenous Food Sovereignty
Galen Armstrong & Ana Simeon, Sierra Club BC
Candace Batycki, Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative

October 29 – Revelstoke  6:30PM
Okanagan Regional Library, 605 Campbell Ave.  Facebook event
Julian Napoleon, Saulteau First Nation and Working Group on Indigenous Food Sovereignty
Ana Simeon, Sierra Club BC

November 4 – Quadra Island  7:00PM
Quadra Community Centre, 970 West Rd.  Facebook event
Julian Napoleon, Saulteau First Nation and Working Group on Indigenous Food Sovereignty
Ana Simeon, Sierra Club BC
Bob Peart, Executive Director, Sierra Club BC

November 6 – Duncan  1:30PM
Somenos Room, Island Savings Centre, 2687 James St.  Facebook event
Hosted by Council of Canadians, Cowichan Chapter
Julian Napoleon, Saulteau First Nation and Working Group on Indigenous Food Sovereignty

November 14 – Prince George  6:30PM
Room 7-212, UNBC, 3333 University Way  Facebook event
Hosted by Sea to Sands Conservation Alliance
Yvonne Tupper, Saulteau First Nation
Ana Simeon, Sierra Club BC
Ben Parfitt, Resource Policy Analyst, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

November 15 – Quesnel  7:00PM
St. John the Divine Anglican Church Parish Hall, 465 Kinchant St.  Facebook event
Ana Simeon, Sierra Club BC
Ben Parfitt, Resource Policy Analyst, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

November 16 – Williams Lake  7:00PM
Room 1261, Thompson Rivers University, 1250 Western Ave.  Facebook event
Ana Simeon, Sierra Club BC
Ben Parfitt, Resource Policy Analyst, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

November 26 – Kelowna 6:00PM
Unitarian Fellowship of Kelowna, 1310 Bertram St. Facebook event
Hosted by Feast for the Peace and Community Forum
Ken Boon, President Peace Valley Landowners Association (Via live video link )
Wendy Holm, Agrologist
Louis Bockner, Photographer

November 30 – Salt Spring Island 7:00PM
Salt Spring Island Public Library, 129 McPhillips Ave. Facebook event
Briony Penn, Author
Galen Armstrong, Peace Valley Campaigner, Sierra Club BC

 

Opposition to Site C is riding a huge wave of momentum. In September, Treaty 8 First Nations traveled across Canada to the federal appeal hearings in Montreal. As a result, Winnipeg Liberal MP Robert Falcon-Ouellette broke the party line, publicly calling out Prime Minister Trudeau for allowing Site C to violate Treaty 8.

Photo by Louis Bockner

Photo by Louis Bockner

In October, a UNESCO mission spent 10 days investigating the threat posed by Site C to the Peace-Athabasca Delta, a World Heritage Site. The feds must now face International scrutiny and repercussions if Site C is allowed to go ahead.

And the environmental destruction is only becoming more apparent. Scientists have discovered rare and vulnerable species in the dam flood zone that were missed in BC Hydro’s environmental assessment of the project. BC Hydro has applied for a licence that will allow it to demolish protected old-growth forest, migratory bird habitat and a rare wetland in the Peace Valley.

Harry Swain, who chaired the joint review panel on Site C, recently spoke out against Site C, calling it a very big and expensive mistake. In this video he explains why we don’t need Site C power.

Now is the time to take this wave even higher. Please donate today and join us in the fight to stop Site C.

UNESCO in the Peace: Shining an international light on Site C

October 7, 2016

The eyes of the world were focused on Site C this week as UNESCO visited the Peace River Valley. The international agency was there to investigate how Site C endangers a UNESCO World Heritage Site – Wood Buffalo National Park.

There is still time to stop the Site C Dam, and Sierra Club BC is fighting it with every tool at our disposal. We initiated the process that led to the UNESCO decision to send a delegation to investigate the impacts of Site C.

On October 3, Sierra Club BC campaigner Ana Simeon joined the Mikisew Cree, many prominent scholars and environmental organizations from BC and Alberta, and national groups in Edmonton during the 10-day UNESCO mission. Together, they held the undivided attention of the delegation for nearly four hours as they spoke out about the destructive impacts of Site C and tar sands development on Wood Buffalo National Park.

Peace River. Photo by Larry Peterson.

Peace River. Photo by Larry Peterson.

The Mikisew Cree are highly concerned about the growing threats posed by development to water levels in the Peace-Athabasca Delta, the world’s largest inland freshwater delta. The area provides critical habitat for fish, moose, bison, and migratory birds including the endangered whooping crane. The Mikisew Cree have depended on this area for their livelihoods for millennia. They have asked the UNESCO World Heritage Committee to list the World Heritage Site as “In Danger.”

Presentations and submissions by Ana Simeon, Candace Batycki of the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, and the Peace Valley Environment Association covered every angle on Site C – including the violations of First Nations’ rights, the impacts happening right now in the Peace valley, and the drying of the Peace Athabasca Delta. In the face of the federal government’s lack of vigour in protecting Aboriginal rights and the environment, we called for the mission to deliver a wake-up call that international obligations must be respected.

site-c-drummers

Action to protect the valley. Photo courtesy of Peace Valley Environment Association.

Ana Simeon told the delegates, “We believe Canada needs support in maintaining a strong and principled course on respect for Aboriginal and Treaty rights as well as international treaties and international law. We believe this support would be best delivered by the international community in the form of ‘tough love.’ This ‘tough love’ includes declaring Wood Buffalo National Park a World Heritage Site in Danger, as well as calling for an immediate halt to Site C construction until First Nations legal challenges have been heard and a full inquiry has been conducted into treaty rights violations.”

What happens next?

The mission will release its report in six weeks, and Canada will need to respond within six months. Based on the mission report, the World Heritage Committee will make a decision next July, which may or may not include the finding that Wood Buffalo National Park is a World Heritage Site in danger. We need your help in calling on our federal government to act to protect Wood Buffalo National Park.

Please, send a letter help protect this special region from further devastation. If you want to do more, consider making a donation today to support Sierra Club BC. We rely on contributions from supporters like you to keep up the fight. Thank you!

Feature image: Flickr Creative Commons.

Letter to Minister LeBlanc regarding Site C permit approval

Dear Minister LeBlanc,

Thank you for your invitation to meet with you and the other ENGOs working on marine issues next week. We appreciate the opportunity to share our concerns and hear your perspective on the next steps needed to protect the health and productivity of marine ecosystems.

As you may know, Sierra Club BC has a long-standing interest in marine conservation. For many years our organization was an active member of the Marine Protected Areas caucus. Our pioneering work on Blue Carbon, conducted by Dr. Colin Campbell, highlights the potential of estuarine and saltmarsh habitats to function as highly efficient carbon sinks. We continue to advocate for protection of Blue Carbon as a key plank of Canada’s strategy to mitigate climate change.

Right now, our focus is strongly on preventing severe and permanent ecosystem impacts from the proposed Site C dam to a number of aquatic species in the Peace River. The Site C dam would also interfere with ice jam formation and spring flows into the Peace Athabasca Delta, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an important carbon sink in its own right.

On July 28, we were shocked and saddened to learn that DFO has issued permits for continued construction of the Site C dam, despite strong opposition by Treaty 8 First Nations, multiple court challenges, and an unprecedented Statement of Concern from over 350 scientists and the Royal Academy of Canada, who unanimously called on the federal government to revisit the Order in Council approving Site C, and to suspend the issuance of further permits pursuant to the Order in Council until it has completed an analysis of the project’s impact on Aboriginal and Treaty rights.

As you are aware, the Joint Review Panel on Site C found that Site C would cause significant adverse effects to fish and fish habitat, and significant cumulative adverse effects to fish. DFO anticipates the extirpation of the Arctic Grayling and a near-extirpation of Peace River Mountain Whitefish (loss of 90 percent of population). While BC Hydro proposes to mitigate effects on Bull Trout, a species of special concern under COSEWIC, by means of fish ladders, similar at-tempts in other jurisdictions have met with scant success to date due to Bull Trout’s reluctance to use man-made structures. The release of methylmercury from decaying vegetation, and its bioaccumulation in Bull Trout is also of concern, given the cultural importance of this species to Treaty 8 First Nations. Contamination of the remaining Bull Trout in the Peace watershed with methylmercury would severely and permanently undermine First Nations uses of the land.

Regarding Site C’s impact on the Peace Athabasca Delta and Wood Buffalo National Park, the prima-facie scientific evidence, presented to the World Heritage Committee by the Mikiseew Cree and Athabasca Chipewyan First Nations, was sufficient to trigger a UNESCO Mission to Canada to investigate these impacts. The ecological health of the PAD is supported by a complex interaction between the Athabasca River, the Peace River, the Birch River, and Lake Athabasca. Pending the completion of the Mission, the UNESCO Heritage Committee has requested that Canada refrain from proceeding with any project that would cause irreversible damage. Approving continued construction of Site C is contrary to Canada’s international obligation to protect the Peace Athabasca Delta and Wood Buffalo National Park from adverse effects of upstream development.

We respectfully request that you respond to the following questions:

1. How do you, as Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, and a member of the federal Cabinet, plan to redress the burning First Nations issues arising from the approvals given so far to Site C, which are at odds with the federal government’s commitment to reconciliation with, and legal obligations to, First Nations?

2. How do you, as Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, and a member of the federal Cabinet, plan to comply with Canada’s international obligations to protect the Peace Athabasca Delta, a World Heritage Site?

We thank you for your urgent attention to this matter.

 

Sincerely,

Bob Peart, Executive Director

Sierra Club BC