$20 million agriculture compensation fund reflects regional input
DAWSON CREEK – BC Hydro today released the framework for the Agricultural Mitigation and Compensation Plan, which contains details on the $20 million agricultural compensation fund.
“This framework has been shaped by input received during consultation with agricultural producers,” said Norm Letnick, Minister of Agriculture. “I encourage the agricultural associations and producers to provide their feedback on the framework to ensure the plan supports the agricultural priorities of the region.”
The framework outlines the elements that will be included in the Agricultural Mitigation and Compensation Plan, which is a condition of the Site C project’s environmental approval. The four components of the framework are:
- construction management practices, as they pertain to agriculture,
- development of individual farm mitigation plans,
- management of residual agricultural land; and
- establishment of the $20 million agricultural compensation fund.
“It’s important to BC Hydro to have a comprehensive plan to mitigate the effects of Site C on agricultural land and landowners,” said Jessica McDonald, President and CEO of BC Hydro. “The $20 million compensation fund will increase opportunities for the agricultural industry in the Peace region, guided by local input.”
“The agricultural compensation fund will benefit the Peace region for years to come,” said Mike Bernier, MLA for Peace River South. “The purpose of this framework is to improve agricultural production and agrifoods economic activity in the Peace region.”
The feedback received during consultation reflected regional input and concluded the compensation fund must directly benefit agriculture in the Peace River region. BC Hydro and the Ministry of Agriculture will work with the Peace region’s agricultural industry to establish a Board for the fund that represents regional agricultural producers and agricultural interests.
“The entirety of the $20 million compensation fund will be invested in the Peace region and funding decisions will be made by agricultural producers in the Peace region, which is very good news,” said Pat Pimm, MLA for Peace River North. “I was very fortunate to be able attend three of the four public consultation round tables and I think the framework accurately captures the discussion and the local input that was discussed.”
“It was good to have agricultural producers and land owners at the table to provide early input in to the plans. I am happy to see the regional focus and decision-making for the fund in the framework as an outcome of our input,” said Rick Kantz, BC Grain Producers Association and local agricultural producer.
The framework was developed by the Consultation Steering Committee, comprised of staff from BC Hydro, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Energy and Mines. In fall 2015 and spring 2016, the Consultation Steering Committee sought input from a range of stakeholders, including Peace region landowners, tenure holders, agricultural producers, agricultural associations, local governments and Aboriginal groups.
To learn more and provide feedback:
- Review the Agricultural Mitigation and Compensation Plan Framework.
- Send your feedback to [email protected] by September 26, 2016.
Feedback will be considered by the Consultation Steering Committee for the development of the draft Agricultural Mitigation and Compensation Plan, which will be released in January 2017.
- More than 99 per cent of agricultural land rated as Class 1 to Class 5 in the Peace Agricultural Region will not be affected by Site C.
- Approximately 2,670,000 hectares of Class 1 to Class 5 lands will remain available for agricultural production in the region after Site C, compared to 3,800 hectares that will be unavailable.
- An independent Joint Review Panel concluded that “…the permanent loss of the agricultural production of the Peace River valley bottomlands included in the local assessment area of the Project is not, by itself and in the context of B.C. or western Canadian agricultural production, significant.”
- On BC Hydro’s proposed agricultural compensation fund, the independent Joint Review Panel stated: “The current value of annual crops from the portion of the valley that would be inundated is but $220,000…The proposed $20 million agricultural investment fund, to be spent on improvements outside the inundation zone, is generous by comparison.”
The Site C Clean Energy Project is a hydroelectric dam and generating station under construction in northeast B.C. The project is being built to meet long-term electricity needs in B.C. Once complete in 2024, the project will provide clean, reliable and cost-effective electricity for more than 100 years.
BC Hydro Media Relations