Newspaper article The Canadian Press

BC Hydro Submits Mass of Information on Environmental Impact of Site C Dam

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

BC Hydro Submits Mass of Information on Environmental Impact of Site C Dam

Article excerpt

BC Hydro submits Site C Dam impact statement

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VICTORIA - BC Hydro says its proposed $7.9-billion Site C hydroelectric dam in northeastern British Columbia will flood agricultural land and force some landowners off their property, but overall, the project should proceed because it's in the best interests of the province.

The Crown-owned public utility submitted its environmental impact statement Monday to federal and provincial review bodies that must now conduct a joint environmental review process that includes public hearings and will be followed by a decision on the future of the project, likely sometime next year.

The massive, five-volume, 40-section submission to the federal Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and the provincial British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office is the result of five years of studying the potential effects of the dam and proposed measures to avoid or mitigate the impacts.

"On the balance of it all, we believe that even looking at the things that can't be mitigated, that the project should move forward because it's in the best interest, we believe, for the province of British Columbia," said David Conway, Hydro's Site C community relations spokesman, who was in Fort St. John for the announcement.

"We feel the effects of the project can largely be mitigated through careful project planning and comprehensive mitigation programs and ongoing monitoring of operations," he said.

"But like any large infrastructure project there are things that can't be mitigated."

Hydro's Site C Clean Energy Project would be the third dam and hydroelectric generating station on the Peace River in B.C.'s northeast. Site C will be about one-third of the size of the area's W.A.C. Bennett Dam.

Hydro energy forecasts indicate customer demand for electricity is expected to increase by about 40 per cent over the next 20 years. Site C is projected to supply enough energy to power 465,000 homes for 100 years.

But Site C, with its 83-kilometre-long reservoir and earth dam, comes with impacts, including flooding at least 3,800-hectares of agricultural land and realigning Highway 29 from Hudson's Hope to Fort St. John, which means at least 20 family moves, said Conway.

"There are approximately 100 land holdings, which is not people, affected in some way in some aspect by the project," he said.

Of the 100 pieces of land, there are 30 homes, said Conway. He said Hydro's environmental impact study concludes the Site C project will force 10 to move out of the area, 10 others to move to other areas on their own property and 10 other homes won't need to be moved.

Conway said Hydro will offer compensation to the land holders.

BC Hydro is also in negotiations with area First Nations who must be consulted about the project and in some cases be accommodated, said Conway.

He said Hydro has approached 50 First Nations in the area, including groups in Alberta and along the borders of Saskatchewan and Northwest Territories. …

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