My computer has been idle during the holiday season, partly for an intended break but also because I’ve been laid low by a nasty bout of inflenza. After 2+ weeks, the worst seems to be over and I expect to resume normal activity in the near future.
As my reading of online material resumed, this open letter, posted on Facebook by John Gellard, stood out. The content deserves attention from members of John Horgan’s government.
January 6, 2018
NDP Community Office
2909 West Broadway
Vancouver, BC, V6K 2G6
To: The Honourable David Eby and Cabinet:
Dear Mr Eby:
Re: Thoughts on Site C, an open letter
I’m a long time NDP supporter living in the desperate hope that there is something I can say to help persuade you and the cabinet to reverse your decision to proceed with the Site C Dam. I am convinced that this is something you would dearly love to do. It may be that if you found a way to do it, the political will would follow. “Where there’s a way, there’s a will”, to quote Ken Dryden.
I’ve got used to the disappointment, and I’m beyond questioning the specious accounting trickery. There’s the question of the $4b, which might only be $2b, less than the abandoned bridge tolls. There’s the question why a money-losing $12b dam is an “asset” while the productive Valley itself has no amortizable value. There’s the bewilderment about destroying farm land that could feed a million people…and so on. I won’t bore you with the litany.
The bewilderment of course, leads to dark speculation and rumours about motives. Who are pulling the puppet strings that direct us along the path of economic nonsense and loss to the slough of bitterness and betrayal? Could it be true, for example, that a Chinese state consortium is taking over the spillway and generating station contract so that they can have cheap power for mining Bitcoin?
Can you see how silly it gets if you continue to hide things from your supporters? Was the decision made before the BCUC report came out? Was the BCUC process nothing but an empty charade? Again one can’t help but speculate and invent conspiracies.
So where is the hope?
Perhaps hope lies in the idea of the “Sacred” – Sacred Land, Sacred Nature. That idea never breaks the surface in economic discussion, but it is powerful. I was in the “Sacred Headwaters” on August 17, 2013 when a small group of Tahltan confronted Robin Goad of Fortune Minerals on the slopes of Klappan Mountain. The mountain was to become an open pit coal mine. “We’ll put it back the way it was,” said Goad. The Tahtlan made it clear that there would be no mine. “Enough is enough!” said Pat Edzerza. “Do you have a heart?” said Jerry Quock. “You have a devil’s heart.” Fortune minerals packed up and left, as had the Shell frackers the year before, leaving Imperial Metals to carry on with their copper mine on Todagin Mountain.
The “Sacred” is a powerful measure of an enlightened culture. Please let it into your thinking.
A place where the Sacred failed is the Arrow Lakes, which were sacrificed in the 1960s for water storage worth “tens of millions of dollars” according to WAC Bennett. A valley full of orchards, sandy beaches, kokanee salmon and viable little communities well connected by a ferry, was drowned. Now there’s a sterile reservoir that you never hear of. The life has gone out of it except for the village of Nakusp and a few remnant hot springs. One weeps to think of what might have been. It’s cruelly ironic that we are selling the entitlement to downstream benefits of the water storage because we don’t need the power.
So I implore you, honorable members of the cabinet, to revive the notion of the “Sacred”. Listen to the First Nations. That land you are about to destroy is an entire pastoral ecosystem with exceptional farming opportunities, a teeming wildlife reserve, breeding grounds with migratory routes for ungulates, predators, fish and birds, and hunting and gathering grounds for First Nations people.
If you destroy that land, you end up with a sterile, poisoned, unstable reservoir and a ruined Athabaska Delta . The harvest will be despair and resentment. No amount of “money” or “mitigation” will heal those wounds.
It’s worth mentioning, by the way, that Andrew Weaver, in Kelowna recently gave an excellent analysis of the economic folly of Site C, but he spoiled it by saying, “Well, it is green energy”. No sir, such ecological devastation cannot be considered “green energy”. Mr Weaver needs to consider the notion of the “Sacred” too.
So, please, ladies and gentlemen, you must revive the idea of the Sacredness of the Natural World. It was not put here for us to commodify and destroy. Here might just be the “way” that stimulates the “political will” to bring us out of the mess we are in. “Where there’s a way, there’s a will.”
Above all, let’s not go the way of the Arrow Lakes.
I look forward to being able to support the NDP or the Greens again. That will happen when Site C is cancelled.
Categories: Site C