The Fight to Save Peace River Valley BC

British Columbia Activism
by Jenny Nichols Jan 29, 2015

I LOVE HONEYBEES. They really know how to dance.

While on production in British Columbia with photographer Garth Lenz, I met Guy Armitage and Mary Bereton of Hudson’s Hope Honey. Guy also loves bees and he has searched for the best nooks and crannies in Hudson’s Hope for his hives to live. They are picky, and he is dedicated to their happiness. Happy bees make the best honey. Unfortunately much of this prime bee real estate will be underwater if the proposed Site C dam is built. Guy, Mary, and their bees are among the many who will be affected by the proposed dam.

Site C would flood 83 km of the beautiful Peace River Valley, displacing all who call it home.

There are often differing opinions around energy development. What is unique about Peace Valley is that you’d be hard pressed to find someone in the valley who supports the proposed Site C dam. I couldn’t tell an unbiased story on this issue if I wanted to. The business community is against it, because the economics are not sound. The $8.8 billion project would be funded through taxing BC citizens. No one is talking about the need for more hydro power; BC has hydro power already. Site C would flood 78 First Nations heritage sites, in violation of the First Nations treaty rights. Some of the best class agricultural soil in BC is found in the Peace River Valley and is of course worthless underwater. This valley is also used by wildlife as key portion of their migration routes.

Everyone living in the valley has something at stake. I asked Xavier Beam about the proposed Site C dam. He was standing in his backyard on the banks of the Peace River, holding a fishing pole and shading his eyes to watch his younger brothers paddling in a tiny canoe. He responded, “Well, they are going to build a highway right through our house and then flood it…I just have this huge problem with that.”

I caught a screening of DamNation right before I set off on this project, and was astonished by the extent to which dams are no longer considered an effective way of creating energy. Dams are obsolete. With thousands of unsafe and deteriorating dams to address, building new ones is a step in the wrong direction.

There is a lot of buzz surrounding dams right now, and decision makers are listening. There is simply not a good argument for the Site C dam and the BC government knows it. The solution is simple — don’t build the Site C dam. Everyone wins, and Guys’ bees will be happy.

More information in the links below:

  • “Building the dam is the equivalent of turning gold into lead.”Dan Potts, the former executive director of the Associate of Major Power Customers of BC
  • “I think the cost of hydro-electric dam construction is so astronomical that no one will ever do it again and we’re going to have this huge white elephant. Potentially it’s going to drive our industry out of business.” — Craig Thomson, Energy and Environment Supervisor at Canfor Taylor Pulp Mill
  • “The alluvial soils to be flooded to produce overpriced power for the Site C dam are capable of producing sufficient fresh vegetables to provide the nutritional needs of a million people. Forever.”Wendy Holm, Professional Agrologist
  • “Obsolete dams impose a high cost on river communities and ecosystems, our economy and tribal cultures. We have found better ways to do the work of dams.”DamNation

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