Amnesty enters Canadian dam argument

By Mike Hayes10 August 2016

Amnesty International has waded into a dispute over a dam project on the Peace River in northern British Columbia (BC), Canada.

The human rights charity is supporting critics of the site C dam in a new report urging the country’s federal government to properly examine the role of resource extraction in increased risk for aboriginal women in northern BC.

Amnesty sent three researchers to the area last year, to examine the potential impact of the project on aboriginal women in the area. The resultant report states that major projects, such as the Site C dam, have “cumulative impacts” on the cost of living and social services, putting women at risk.

At CAN$ 8.8 billion (US$ 6.74 billion), the proposed 1,100 MW 60 m hydro dam is the most expensive public project in the history of the province.

The BC government maintains the dam – a project by BC Hydro – is the most cost-effective way of meeting the electricity needs of the province.

The completed dam would also flood 107 km of the Peace River and its tributaries, as well as submerging farmland

The BC government has repeatedly rejected calls for an independent review of the project and last month the federal government approved the necessary permits to allow construction of the dam to continue.

Meanwhile, members of two of Canada’s indigenous First Nations are challenging Site C in federal court. One of those involved, Chief Lynette Tsakoza of the Prophet River First Nation, said, “It is not too late to change course. The damage to the Peace River is not yet irreversible. Stopping Site C is a perfect opportunity to demonstrate to all Canadians that the government takes reconciliation seriously.”

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