Site C Dam Hearings End Week 1 Amid Tears, Jeers and BC Hydro's Rejected Alternatives

Environmental review hearings for the $7.9-billion Site C dam proposal by BC Hydro have finished their first week in Fort St. John, B.C. Tears fell in the Peace River during the Site C hearings as long time residents and far longer time aboriginal neighbors cried uncontrollably when trying to express how much their land and the lives on it mean to them. The hearing had to be stopped to allow the people to regain composure often.

The quote of the week came when Gary Oker, a former chief with the Doig River First Nation, said his people have ancient stories about giant animals that once roamed the land and devoured native people. Speaking to Hydro, he said: "We see . . . the giant animal has returned."

Ironically, Alberta's Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, which manages lands, forests, fish and wildlife in the province, has filed a 23-page submission setting out its concerns about the downstream impact of the Site C dam proposal on fish, and flooding in Alberta. Their submission says, "Two existing dams on the Peace River in B.C. have already significantly altered the flow of the river into the neighbouring province, this has both positive and negative impacts in Alberta, Alberta is concerned that Site C will further exacerbate the negative impacts". Take that left-coasters.

The commission also heard about all the other options that BC Hydro rejected in its decades long zeal to build Site C. The Larry Pynn article for the Times Colonist outlines some of the alternatives but concentrates on the submission of Alison Thompson, chair of the Calgary-based Canadian Geothermal Energy Association, who told the panel that "B.C. has one of the largest concentration of hot springs in the world, but that BC Hydro does not consider the industry to be a serious source of stable energy"."While B.C. has no operating geothermal projects, the sector is generating 3,300 megawatts in the U.S. and 1,000 megawatts in Mexico. B.C. could be a powerhouse on the world stage, not a fringe player," Thompson said, "adding her industry is an inconvenient truth to B.C. Hydro".

The hearings will go on into late January. Surely there will be more tear filed testimony and more damning evidence of Hydro's Cyclops like focus on only one side of the economic formula, the supply side. Nowhere does Hydro or the drooling developers question the commandment that 'demand for electricity will skyrocket in the coming decades'. Nowhere will they acknowledge that conservation is the only real solution.

One upside is that apparently BC Hydro is soliciting resumes. Christy's job plan maybe working. Hydro has openings for executives who can immediately transfer to the Peace region and fill some empty seats at the hearings. Can't imagine why, but between sick leave, early retirement and resignation Hydro is having a hard time keeping their allotted section populated.