Recently, the CWHP/PHEC, in association with Green College and the Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, hosted a workshop to consider the proposed Site C Dam on the Peace River in northern British Columbia.
As a Site C Dam will have a range of ramifications and emerges from a complex social and environmental history, the CWHP/PHEC decided that it would provide a useful focus for discussion, linking academic researchers with community participants. Over the course of a day, participants considered the historical background to the Site C proposal, and debated the merits and difficulties of the current proposal. Although the workshop was closed to foster a small group discussion atmosphere, some of the positions of the participants will soon be made publicly available. Several participants will prepare Op/Eds about Site C which will be published in a future issue of BC STUDIES.
Site C Background:
In its latest BC Energy Plan, the provincial government calls upon BC Hydro to study the feasibility of a development at Site C and to communicate widely with the public about the issue. At time of writing, BC Hydro is engaged with a broad consultation to potentially affected communities.
The Peace River was first dammed in the late 1960s when the mammoth W.A.C. Bennett Dam created the largest human-made lake in North America. The Peace Canyon Dam followed downriver. Since that time, considerable controversy has surrounded the environmental effects of river regulation and their social consequences. When BC Hydro first considered moving forward with the Site C Dam in the late 1970s, a diverse environmental coalition formed to block the project. Ultimately, the BC Utilities Commission canceled the project owing to perceived failings in BC Hydro’s electricity forecasting. In the current context of rising provincial population and energy demand, the Site C dam has re-emerged as a potential solution to looming electricity generation problems. What the potential costs, benefits and incidental effects of such a solution might be remain controversial.
Gerry Attachie, Councilor, Doig River First Nation, on behalf of Council of Western Treaty 8 Chiefs
Michael Church, Professor Emeritus, Geography, UBC
Marjorie Griffin Cohen, Professor, Political Science and Women’s Studies, SFU
Laurie Dickmeyer, MA Student, Geography, UBC
Nichole Dusyk, PhD student, Resources, Environment and Sustainability, UBC
Matthew Evenden, Associate Professor, Geography, UBC
Ken Forest, Peace Valley Environment Association
Tina Loo, Professor and Canada Research Chair, History, UBC
Jeremy Mouat, Professor, History, University of Alberta
Shona Nelson, Administrator and Director of Treaty and Aboriginal Rights Research, Treaty 8 Tribal Assoc.
Alex Netherton, Professor, Political Science, Vancouver Island University
Adrienne Peacock, Professor, Biology, Douglas College
Jonathon Peyton, PhD student, Geography, UBC.
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