Advance View: Dam site better than other options

There will be much rending of garments and gnashing of teeth, but the decision to go ahead with the Site C hydroelectric dam project is probably, in balance, the right one.

In a perfect world, the idea of flooding more than 5,000 acres of arable land to generate electricity would be incomprehensible. Many would suggest that any environmental assessors who could have given their stamp of approval to such a project should be made to work in a windowless office in a block of concrete for the rest of their lives.

The provincial leaders who followed the environmental approvals by giving the project the go-ahead will certainly pay a political price from some quarters.

We empathize with the First Nations who will see sacred lands drowned beneath cubic miles of water… if their court challenges are unsuccessful, and that certainly remains to be seen.

Likewise, farmers who will see their livelihood shift as their farms – currently significant agricultural attributes in a province which is comprised of only four per cent arable land – are flooded and rendered useless.

Going ahead with Site C is not a great decision, and maybe not even a good decision.

But it is the best decision, not just from the viewpoint of the obvious economic benefits, but whether we wish to admit it or not, from an environmental position – which is surely what the assessors and politicians had in mind.

We live in a society that gobbles energy, and unless we decide to reduce our consumption, our environmentally sound options are limited. Wind, wave, and sunlight, despite great recent advances, remain too expensive. Too many people are too afraid of nuclear power. We’re not convinced LNG is more than a pipe dream. And coal and oil are too dirty and too dangerous.

Hydroelectricity isn’t perfect, but for now, it’s relatively clean and valuable. And it’s the best we’ve got.

– B.G.

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