WATCH: Reaction to the government’s Site C Dam announcement has been strong and swift. Calvin To spoke with stakeholders on both sides of the issue.
The government’s Site C dam announcement on Monday was met with opposition.
Opponents are expressing concern over impacts to the environment, farmland, and the food supply.
“The B.C. Ministry of Agriculture says we’ve got to add 200,000 acres of class 1 farmland and here we’re going to destroy between 15,000 and 30,000 at Site C and flood it,” said Harold Steves, a former NDP MLA who helped establish the Agricultural Land Reserve.
There are also worries about the cost of Site C.
“This is intergenerational debt. Already they were talking 70 years but the price is going up so it’ll be over 100 years,” said Vicky Husband, an environmental activist.
Proponents say the announcement will save more than 2,000 jobs while giving investors more certainty about the future.
“It’s an important project for the region. Remember, about 82 per cent of all the workers working on Site C right now are from British Columbia and half those individuals are from the Peace River area,” said Chris Gardner, president of the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association.
In a statement, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation expressed “cautious optimism” and called for “strict money management” going forward.
But others say the economic benefits will come at the cost of Indigenous rights.
According to Indigenous rights advocates, more than 300 spiritual and cultural sites will be flooded, and other areas could be affected as well, as far as the Peace-Athabasca Delta in Alberta.
“Reconciliation can’t happen if you’re continuously causing harm,” said Ana Simeon, Fundraising Campaigns Manager for RAVEN. “And this valley will suffer great harm.”