Opposition grows to Peace dam plan

Opposition grows to Peace dam plan
Hanging in the balance: The strikingly beautiful scene painted by nature in the Peace River Valley may be sacrificed in order to power hundreds of thousands of houses in Southern B.C., leaving lush lands like the ones pictured above under 200 feet of water.Photo courtesy of Larry Peterson.

BC Hydro’s plan to dam the Peace River a third time has met unrivaled resistance from environmental groups, concerned citizens and watchdog organizations alike. Foremost among them is the Peace Valley Environment Association (PVEA).

Formed in the 1970s during BC Hydro’s first attempt to justify the project, PVEA was a major player in its rejection. When rumours of another attempt to construct Site C began to surface in 2005, PVEA was one of the first to speak out against it.

Diane Culling, a wildlife biologist and member of PVEA, has been a key member of the environmental organization, helping manage awareness events like Paddle for the Peace while adding her scientific background to the cause.

“We at the PVEA are very involved in the regulatory process,” said Culling. “We were part of the consultation process and we have done our best to independently raise awareness of the natural beauty and environmental importance of the Peace River system.”

Events such as Paddle for the Peace are essential in humanizing the river for those who otherwise know it as just a name on the map. This humanization helps create a bond between people and the river, a bond that makes people want to fight to preserve the body of water, Culling told The Journal.

“Even if you show up to Paddle for the Peace pro Site-C, you wouldn’t be the first to change your mind after spending a day on the river,” said Culling. “For example, 200 people turned out this year. They came and made a public statement that they care, despite the fact that the weather conditions on the river were too dangerous to paddle.”

Culling hopes this commitment of human spirit proves essential in defeating the proposed dam, and preserving the environmental integrity of the Peace River and its extensive drainage basin.

“We will continue to hold the Paddle for the Peace and raise awareness of the the river’s natural beauty and fragile integrity until Site-C is defeated entirely,” said Cullen.

“That being said, I do not believe that it is going to go ahead. If science and economics rule the day, and I believe they do, I doubt that this project will go forward.

“If we can hold this project off for 20 years, then they would never even dream of it,” said Culling. “The science just isn’t behind Site C. You can only dam the Peace River drainage so much. It makes so much more sense to revamp our current [electrical] systems.”

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