Speaking for the National Farmers Union (NFU), Women’s President and Peace Region farmer Bess Legault has written to BC Agriculture Minister Hon. Lana Popham asking her to stand with farmers in opposing the Site C Dam project. The BC cabinet is expected to consult this week on a recent review by former deputy finance minister Peter Milburn assessing the status of the Site C project.
On November 28, 2020, the NFU passed a nationwide resolution calling upon the BC government to halt all major works on the Site C dam pending a formal public inquiry. Between rising risks of geotechnical catastrophe, a dramatic violation of indigenous Treaty 8 rights, and flooding 9,000+ acres of precious, arable BC farmland, the Site C Dam being built on BC’s Peace River is emerging as a massive liability that this province can no longer afford.
“In full production, the deep alluvial soils and unique microclimate of the Peace Valley have the capacity to meet the nutritional needs of over 1 million people a year, forever,” Legault writes. The land under Site C is uniquely situated to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to Northern communities, where food insecurity has been “cited as a priority by Ottawa for over two decades yet never addressed.” Bringing Site C to completion would flood one of BC’s last vestiges of prime farmland just when we need it the most.
“Major geological problems have been identified at the Site C dam construction site on BC’s Peace River, including under the foundation for the powerhouse, the spillways and the dam itself, which threaten the stability and safety of the whole project,” writes Wendy Holm, NFU Associate Member and award-winning Agrologist who conducted an agricultural impact assessment on Site C. “We no longer know how much this dam will cost.”
“The debt to taxpayers arising from the COVID-19 pandemic means we can no longer afford the capital sinkhole that Site C has become,” echoes Legault. “COVID-19 has also unmasked food security concerns with news of Canadian food costs increasing this winter by 4.5-6.5%, none of which will end up in the pocket of the farmer in a highly concentrated system.”
There is still time for the provincial government to course correct away from Site C in favour of a thriving and climate-compatible agricultural future in the Peace Region. The National Farmers Union requests a collaborative strategy be considered that would see universities and colleges in BC, YK, NWT and AB form a learning cooperative in the Peace River Valley to advance climate adaptive agricultural solutions through organic and regenerative production methods. This vision is complemented by foundational work already happening in the region, such as the Community Food Hub Network under development by the Northern Co-Hort designed to link ecologically-minded farmers with diversified local markets and strengthen rural economic development.
“Minister Popham, I know your name is on that Yellow Stake in Arlene and Ken Boon’s yard for a good reason. I hope this call from the National Farmers Union will fuel your passion to save our beautiful Peace Valley, train the next generation of climate friendly farmers, and deliver food security to northern Canadians,” Legault concludes.
In support of the national resolution and Legault’s letter at this critical time, the NFU is launching a letter-writing campaign in partnership with Dogwood BC for farmers and concerned citizens to join together in calling on the BC government to stop Site C. Add your voice here.
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NFU Region 8 (British Columbia)
For more information:
Bess Legault, NFU Women’s President (778) 256 3353