Site C dam granted BC Province environmental assessment approval

Photo by DeSmogCanada via Flickr

Site C Clean Energy project, a proposed $7.9 billion dam seven kilometres southwest from Fort St. John, is in the public interest, Environment Minister Mary Polak and Forests Minister Steve Thomson stated today in a press release.

The ministers issued an environmental assessment certificate to BC Hydro after concluding that the benefits of the project on Peace River outweighs the environmental, social and heritage effects.

Aboriginal groups, government agencies, communities and the public were all apart of the consultation process, which included the discussion of potential impacts of Site C on Aboriginal interests and how to mitigate or avoid those issues.

The process proves to be a long one as “the Province must still decide whether to proceed with the project based on an investment decision,” according to the Ministry of Environment press release. If the project continues BC Hydro would be required to obtain a variety of provincial permits, through a process coordinated and led by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

As expected, the certificate was issued with a few rules. There were 77 legally-binding conditions that BC Hydro must meet to be in compliance, including:

  • Establish a fund of $20 million to compensate for lost agricultural lands and activities

  • Develop an Aboriginal Business Participation Strategy to maximize opportunities for Aboriginal businesses

  • Develop protocols for application of construction methods, equipment, material and timing of activities to mitigate adverse effects to wildlife and wildlife habitat

  • Build 50 rental units in Fort St. John, of which 40 will be used for Hydro housing and 10 will be available for low-to-moderate income households.Monitor greenhouse gas emissions from the reservoir for the first ten years of operations

The project would be a third dam and hydroelectric generating station on the Peace River. It would provide 1,100 megawatts of capacity and produce about 5,100 gigawatt hours of electricity each year - enough to power the equivalent of about 450,000 homes per year.

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