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BC Hydro responds to Amnesty International Report

FORT ST. JOHN – BC Hydro provided a response today to an Amnesty International report about Site C.

BC Hydro has a world class system that is 98 per cent clean, meeting two-thirds of new electricity demand through conservation, and has the third lowest residential rates in North America.

We’re building Site C to meet the long-term energy and capacity needs of British Columbians. The demand for electricity is expected to increase by almost 40 per cent over the next 20 years, as our population grows by over one million people and the economy expands.

Once complete, Site C will provide clean, reliable and cost-effective electricity for more than 100 years. Without Site C, B.C. is forecast to have an eight per cent capacity deficit and a two percent energy deficit within 10 years – equivalent to the power needs of 100,000 homes.

All major infrastructure projects have environmental impacts and we recognize Site C is no different. Many of the environmental impacts can be addressed through careful project planning, comprehensive environmental and community mitigation measures, and ongoing monitoring during construction and operations.

 A recent backgrounder describes the community mitigation measures implemented already during the first year of Site C construction, and a Regional and Community Benefits information sheet describes the wide variety of measures to support local communities. Many of these measures directly support families, women and children in the Peace region, including: providing funding for new childcare spaces, committing $1.1 million to local non-profits, creating new affordable housing, supporting regional and Aboriginal skills training, and providing funding for additional local policing.

BC Hydro has been consulting and engaging with Aboriginal groups about Site C since 2007 and continues to have many positive discussions with Aboriginal groups affected by the project. BC Hydro has reached agreements, or terms for agreements, with a number of Aboriginal groups, including Dene Tha’ First Nation and McLeod Lake Indian Band. Of the 13 Aboriginal groups that BC Hydro continues to be engaged with, only two First Nations remain opposed to the project in court.

While Amnesty International highlights court proceedings in its report, they do not mention that, to date, four judicial reviews of the environmental approvals of Site C have been dismissed – two in Federal Court, and two in B.C. Supreme Court.

BC Hydro is committed to working with Aboriginal groups to address their concerns and identify opportunities for them to benefit from the project. To date, there has been significant involvement of Aboriginal businesses in site preparation work, including security services, clearing, and road and bridge construction. So far, BC Hydro has committed $130 million in Site C procurement opportunities to Aboriginal companies.

The Site C Clean Energy Project is the most studied project in BC Hydro’s history. As part of the environmental assessment, BC Hydro undertook multi-year studies to plan the project, and to identify and assess potential project effects and proposed comprehensive mitigation measures. All of this information was documented in approximately 30,000 pages in the Site C Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and associated documentation.

A Federal/Provincial Consultation and Accommodation Report documented BC Hydro's extensive consultation and engagement with Aboriginal groups as well as the need for Site C to meet future demand. The report concluded: “There has been meaningful consultation with the potentially affected Aboriginal groups…” and “… consultation has been carried out in good faith and that the process was appropriate and reasonable in the circumstances.

BC Hydro’s comprehensive consultation process with Aboriginal groups has also been recognized by the courts. The Honourable Mr. Justice Manson stated: “The depth of consultation is also evident from the three consultation plans initiated during the JRP process and the post-panel stage consultation meetings... BC Hydro's consultation with the Applicants was a lengthy process, was in good faith and was extensive both qualitatively and quantitatively.” (Decision: Prophet River First Nation v. Canada).

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