Ken Boon’s message hasn’t changed since construction of the Site C dam began in the summer of 2015.
The president of the Peace River Landowners’ Association said the concept behind the controversial hydroelectric mega-project along the Peace River in northeastern B.C. is misguided, from both economic and environmental perspectives.
Boon, one of six landowners in the Peace region who are being expropriated from their property to make room for the project, was in Kelowna on Sunday to speak at a rally hosted by a local coalition opposing the Site C dam.
“This is a terrible project that is very destructive, and the economics make no sense, there’s no business case for this,” said Boon, who along with his wife Arlene, must be out of their home by the end of May. “The biodiversity and the micro climate and agriculture, you name it, will all be seriously affected. It’s a special place, the Peace River country. That’s what’s at risk of being lost here.”
The $8.8 million project will flood some 5,500 hectares of land along the Peace River and when completed is estimated to provide power to more than 400,000 homes.
Boon, who has been travelling around the province to rally support for his cause, said the people of British Columbia have the power to stop the project with their vote in the May 9 provincial election.
“The sense we get right across the province, the more and more people that are aware of the issue are outraged and opposed to the project,” he said. “(Premier Christy Clark’s) goal is to push this past the point of no return. But we have an election in a couple of weeks. We can make a change on that.
“It’s become a dominant election issue and rightfully so.”
Despite Kelowna being located more than 1,000 kilometres away from the project, members of the Okanagan Stop Site C Coalition say the consequences of the dam going ahead will have implications for the province as a whole.
“We just want people all over B.C. to think about it, be aware of this and consider what it will mean if this project goes ahead,” said Hajime Naka, a member of the local coalition. “The ecosystem, the water, fish land and wildlife will all be affected. But for me, my heart is with the First Nations people, who I don’t believe the government are really honouring.
“This is short range vision. We need to look ahead to the future, not four, 10 or 20 years, but hundreds of years.”
A recent study by researchers at UBC supports Ken Boon’s contention that is project is economically flawed and recommends the B.C. government “hit pause on the project.”
The report also indicated that the project is not yet “past the point of no return” and cancelling it by June 30 would save at least $500 million.
On the campaign trail last week, Christy Clark dismissed the findings of the UBC report and staunchly defended the project for its short and long-term economic benefits.
“Site C means thousands of jobs and 100 years of clean, affordable, and reliable power,” said Clark. “It means being ready to meet increasing demand as Canada’s leading economy continues to grow.”
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