Common Sense Canadian
 

New interactive map reveals largest farmland exclusion in ALR history for Site C Dam

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Posted May 4, 2015 by Damien Gillis in Food
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New interactive map reveals largest farmland exclusion in ALR history for Site C Dam

Screen capture from www.arcgis.com

“On April 8, 2015, with the stroke of a pen, the BC Government made the largest exclusion of land from the Agricultural Land Reserve in BC history,” said Hudson’s Hope Mayor Gwen Johansson, upon the release of a new interactive map which visualizes the enormous loss.

“Without Agricultural Land Commission review or public hearings, 3715 hectares (9180 acres) of ALR  land was removed from production for Site C dam.”

Peace Valley farmland, ecosystems worth $8 Billion a year-study

The Peace Valley is one of Canada’s most fertile regions

Yet the overall impact of the dam on BC’s increasingly scarce agricultural land base is even worse than that, according to two expert agrologists who presented their findings to the Joint Review Panel on the $9 Billion proposed project.

In all, the Site C would impact 31,528 acres of class 1-7 farmland, roughly half of which lies “within the project’s flood, stability and landslide-generated wave impact lines,” the former president of the BC Institute of Agrologists, Dr. Wendy Holm, told the 3-member panel last year. The other half will be permanently lost beneath the reservoir and access roads. Of the total land impacted and compromised, over 8,300 acres  are class 1 and 2 soils – making it some the best farmland in the country.

“The Peace River Valley has extraordinarily high value for agriculture,” soil scientist Evelyn Wolterson added.

It is our opinion that the public interest is better served [by] agriculture and other uses for this valley, rather than a hundred years of power production…Power has other alternatives; agriculture doesn’t.

Mayor Johansson agrees, especially in light of the dire drought conditions now plaguing California, on which BC depends heavily for imported produce. In fact, BC currently produces far less than half the food it consumes, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.

“The severe drought in California and the resulting increase to the cost of food we import only reinforces the need to suspend this decision and allow time for the Agricultural Land Commission to provide an independent, open and transparent  review of the exclusion decision,” commented Johansson in passing along the new interactive map to media.

The map enables users to compare the loss of land in BC’s Peace River Valley from Site C with what it would look like in other major farming regions in the province, includingRichmond, Victoria, Kamloops, Prince George, Kelowna and Chilliwack.

Said Johansson, “…this single land exclusion is equivalent to removing an area equal to 72% of all ALR land in Richmond, BC.” According Holm and Wolterson, the land being taken out of potential agricultural production could feed up to a million people – or close to a quarter of the province’s population.

While the BC Liberal government has approved the project and stands by its goal of starting construction this summer, Site C is currently facing no fewer than seven legal challenges from First Nations and farmers.

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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.

7 Comments


  1.  
    Dan Wallace

    BC Hydro is one of the sleaziest government organizations out there. Have many of you seen how the infrastructure goes right through our reserve communities? You all should go on a road trip up to Seton Lake area and see what Hrydro has done to those communities.

    We have been in front of BC Hydro head office here in Vancouver and were served notice as well. Seems educating the public is NOT in the best interests of BC Hydro PR machine.




  2.  
    John's Aghast

    Does anyone have even one good reason this ill-conceived project should proceed?
    If not for this, what was the ALR or BCUC created?




    •  
      Hugh

      The exempting of Site C from BCUC review and cancellation occurred in the BC government when the current CEO of BC Hydro was working with Gordon Campbell:

      “From 2005 to 2009 she held the most senior public service position in the provincial government as Deputy Minister to the Premier, Cabinet Secretary and Head of the BC Public Service, responsible for oversight of all aspects of government operations.”

      https://ca.linkedin.com/in/jessicalmcdonald

      The current CEO of BC Hydro is now ramming through Site C.




  3.  
    Salal

    Our government in BC is corrupt. You can present facts until the cows come home and they really could care less. Food? They don’t care. Better ways of generating electricity? They don’t care. Long term health of the BC environment and its’ inhabitants? They don’t care. Our BC Liberal government is all about the here and now…all about their legacy…all about their future boardroom positions. We have never experienced a BC government so bereft of integrity in this province’s history. When you finally accept that, you know what lies ahead.

    This is my opinion, and I firmly believe in it.




  4.  
    randhadland

    It’s good to see comparisons being made that relate back to where readers might be able to understand the scope of the loss. I would make the following suggestion to deepen (so to speak) that understanding. If you go to the twentieth floor of a building in one of those coloured areas and have a look around it will give you the perspective of standing on a built Site C dam on the Peace River and looking upriver to the lost land.




  5.  
    JasonS

    Hey Christy when California runs out of water in 2 or 3 years and BC public food bills go through the roof will the terrible idea to flood invaluable farm land finally dislodge you unlike the dozens of other scandals you are personally responsible for ? Destroying the province financially and ecologically seems to be the liberals endgame and i see nothing stopping them any time soon. We need some good citizen to build a deck on her house that seems to be the only scandal the media can wrap their pea brains around.





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