Common Sense Canadian

BC Hydro vastly underestimates loss of farmland to Site C Dam

PostedSeptember 17, 2014 by in BC

At a recent press conference in Vancouver, renowned agrologist Wendy Holm and lifelong Peace Valley farmer Renee Ardill spoke to the vast, quality farmland that the proposed Site C Dam would flood or disrupt.

“These soils are completely unique,” explained Holm, a past president of the BC Institute of Agrologists.

They are in an east-west running valley with a Class 1 climate. They are alluvial soils. These were undervalued by the BC Hydro process.

In fact, Hydro counted just 13% of the land that would be lost to future agriculture in its environmental report on the dam, Holm charged. She testified earlier to the Joint Review Panel investigating the project that it would render unfarmable over 30,000 acres of quality land – enough to feed a million people.

Ardill, whose family settled in the valley over a century ago, described the direct role Hydro has played in discouraging agriculture there. “I’ve seen the market gardens that have been there in the past. I’ve seen the potato farm that BC Hydro pushed out in the 70’s when they thought they were going to build Site C the first time,” Ardill told the media.

The potential for the agricultural production in that valley is huge.

Both Holm and Ardill noted that the land lost from the project would far outstrip initial predictions, due to a combination of sloughing of the valley’s unstable banks and other forms of disturbance that would make agriculture impossible in the future.


About the Author

Damien Gillis

Damien Gillis is a Vancouver-based documentary filmmaker with a focus on environmental and social justice issues - especially relating to water, energy, and saving Canada's wild salmon - working with many environmental organizations in BC and around the world. He is the co-founder, along with Rafe Mair, of The Common Sense Canadian, and a board member of both the BC Environmental Network and the Haig-Brown Institute.



    We are stuck in a societal paradigm involving development, growth and profit. At some point this type of foundation for a society will not continue to work. The ever increasing ‘rewards’ will be ‘shortages’, conflicts, and a degraded planet.

    Coral Brown

    Did you know the Environment Canada website under sustainable development states, “Sustainable development is development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.
    Then under economic development it states, “Sustainable economic development is that which is conducted without depletion of natural resources.”
    Has BC read this???


    degradation of enviroment will be in backseat eventually

    Stuart Meade

    Given recent advances, it’s a good bet that cost of production of power from photovoltaic sources will equal or better the cost of hydro generated power before this dam is ever completed. We should not be rushing into what may turn out to be a boondoogle of epic proportions.

    Joyce Hadland

    Wow! I ate some fantastic sweet red & yellow watermelon this summer from the proposed Site C flooding zone – What a shame that people consider this loss of farmland as no big deal!!! Does everyone think eating a shipped watermelon, ripened artificially & shipped hundred of miles from _??___ is better for us? Our future health is dependent on nutritious food that we don’t have to supplement with vitamin pills!. Do you Agree?


    Gee , BC Hydro gets another “estimate” wrong. Kinda like their estimate on the cost of the new transmission line. Seems they forgot about a few mountains jacked up up almost another 500 million.
    Typical govt. No one at the top is accountable. If they do get “fired” they walk away with a juicy severance.

    Donna Furnival

    Stop them!

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