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Site C Dam, Canada

Clean Energy Act is paving the way for "clean" projects, and exempts them from impacts evaluation and consultation with local inhabitants. However, First Nations, Landowners and Environmentalists Resist this controversial dam in British Columbia.


The Site C Project is a large earth-filled dam currently under construction on the Peace River, near the city of Fort St Johns, British Columbia. If completed, it would be the third in a series of dams on the Peace River, which already contributes one third of the energy produced in the province [1].

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Site C Dam, Canada
State or province:British Columbia
Location of conflict:Fort St Johns
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Water Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Land acquisition conflicts
Dams and water distribution conflicts
Specific commodities:Electricity
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The Site C Project is a large earth-fill hydroelectric dam being constructed on the Peace River in North-Eastern British Columbia, Canada. The dam's estimated peak capacity is 1'000MW, with an average capacity of 680MW, and an estimated production of 5'100GWh of electricity per year. If completed it will be the 4th largest producer of energy in the province of British Columbia.

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Project area:9,330
Level of Investment:It ranges from 8.3 billion to 10 billion
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:469+
Start of the conflict:1975
Company names or state enterprises:BC Hydro (BC Hydro) from Canada - Proposed the Project, Started Construction of Project
Relevant government actors:Federal Liberal Government of Canada
Liberal Party of British Columbia
New Democrat Party of British Columbia
BC Utilities Commission (BCUC)
Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA)
British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office (EAO)
Joint Review Panel (JRP)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:The Peace Valley Environment Association (
West Coast Environmental Law Association
The Society for the Promotion of Environmental Conservation
Peace Valley Landowners’ Association (
The Sierra Club
The Program on Water Governance
BC Treaty 8 First Nations
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Recreational users
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Boycotts of official procedures/non-participation in official processes
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Food insecurity (crop damage), Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Potential: Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Other Environmental impacts, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow)
Other Environmental impactsFlooding of Class-A agricultural land for reservoir
Health ImpactsPotential: Other Health impacts
Other Health impactsPossible mental and physical health impacts related to dispossession of land, loss of agricultural land, lack of consent
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/sense of place, Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights
Potential: Other socio-economic impacts, Displacement
Other socio-economic impactsLoss of Class-A Agricultural Land in North-Eastern BC; Threat to Future Food Security; Displacement of Residents; Loss of Traditional Practices/Activities in the Area
Project StatusUnder construction
Conflict outcome / response:Strengthening of participation
Under negotiation
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
The New Democratic Party of British Columbia (BC NDP), backed by the Green Party of British Columbia, formed a minority government in the provincial elections of 2017, and commissioned an independent review by the British Columbian Utilities Commission, who released a final report on November 1st. You can find the report attached in the Sources and Materials section.
Development of alternatives:A Study conducted by the University of British Columbia's evaluated several alternatives to the Site C Project, which include; Upgrading Existing Hydroelectric Dams to Increase Energy Production; Municipal Solid Waste Incineration; Wind Energy; and Natural Gas [4].
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:We are awaiting a final decision by the New Democratic Party of BC on whether construction of the Site C Dam will continue. As construction of the dam had already begun under the previous government, environmental degradation has already occurred, and regardless of whether or not construction will be halted, and the area restored, the project will place a heavy burden on the British Columbian tax base, which will likely result in a rise of hydro-electricity rates across the province.
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency: Site C Clean Energy Project
[click to view]

British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office: Site C Clean Energy
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[1] Stuart, Ryan. 2017. "Out of Sight, Out of Mind; Site C Mega-Dam Threatens the Peace River." The Sierra Club.
[click to view]

[2] Bakker, et al.. 2016. "Report #1: First Nations and Site C". Program on Water Governance, University of British Columbia
[click to view]

[7] BCUC. 1983. "BC Hydro Energy Project Certificate Application for Site C". British Columbia Utilities Commission.
[click to view]

[4] Bakker, et al.. 2016. "Report #2: Assessing Alternatives to Site C (Environmental Effects Comparison)". Program on Water Governance, University of British Columbia.
[click to view]

[3] Gillis, Damien. 2015. "Landowners launch Site C Dam court challenge, First Nations next." The Common Sense Canadian.
[click to view]

[]Gilchrist, Emma. 2015. "Site C Dam 'Devastating for British Columbians'". DesmogCanada
[click to view]

[]Deloitte. 2017. "British Columbia Hydro and Power Authority - British Columbia Utilities Commission Inquiry Respecting Site C - Project No. 1598922" Deloitte LLP.
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Keep The Peace Blog
[click to view]

Global News: B.C. Environmental Group Unhappy With How Site C is Being Handled
[click to view]

Common Sense Canadian: Landmark Treaty 8 Lawsuit Challenges Site C Dam, LNG
[click to view]

BC Treaty 8 First Nations's Website; Information on Site C Dam
[click to view]

Paddle For The Peace
[click to view]

The Tyee "Halting Site C Now Will Save Up to $2 Billion, Says UBC Report"
[click to view]

Times Colonist; “Site C dam project draws criticism at Vancouver public input session”
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

VIDEO: Energy Expert: Site C Dam "fundamentally uneconomic"
[click to view]

VIDEO: Landmark Treaty 8 lawsuit challenges Site C Dam, LNG
[click to view]

VIDEO: Disturbing the Peace: The Story of the Site C Dam
[click to view]

VIDEO: Landowners launch Site C Dam court challenge
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:James Joshua Young - [email protected] - Lund University
Last update06/12/2017
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