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
NameSite C Dam, Canada
ProvinceBritish Columbia
SiteFort St Johns
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Water Management
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Dams and water distribution conflicts
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific CommoditiesElectricity
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe 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.

The Dam is to be 60m in height, 1'050m in length, and have a reservoir with the surface area of 9'330ha.

Timeline of Cost Estimate for the Site C Project:

- 2007: 6.6 Billion CAD

- 2011: 7.9 Billion CAD

- 2014: 8.3 Billion - 9 Billion CAD; the lowball estimate does not include transmission lines and when included brings the project cost to just under 9 Billion CAD

- 2017: 10 Billion CAD; Deloitte a private firm contracted by the BC Utilities Commission to conduct a construction review of the Site C Project estimates that the final cost can be up to 10 Billion because of the likelihood of missing an important river diversion deadline [5]. Some experts argue costs could reach 11-12 Billion CAD if completed [6]

The Estimated Affected Population is hard to determine as there is a lack of information about how many farms, ranches or homes would be lost due to the flooding. The Affected Population given here is that of the West Moberly First Nations, and that of the Prophet River First Nations; however, this a conservative estimate and the actual population affected by the project is likely larger.
Project Area (in hectares)9,330
Level of Investment (in USD)It ranges from 8.3 billion to 10 billion
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population469+
Start Date1975
Company Names or State EnterprisesBC Hydro (BC Hydro) from Canada - Proposed the Project, Started Construction of Project
Relevant government actorsFederal 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 organisations and other supportersThe 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

The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Recreational users
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationBoycotts 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)
OtherFlooding of Class-A agricultural land for reservoir
Health ImpactsPotential: Other Health impacts
OtherPossible mental and physical health impacts related to dispossession of land, loss of agricultural land, lack of consent
Socio-economic 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
OtherLoss 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
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseStrengthening 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 AlternativesA 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 as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.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 and Materials

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

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


[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]

[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]

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

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


Paddle For The Peace
[click to view]

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

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

Keep The Peace Blog
[click to view]

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

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

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

Media Links

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

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

Other Documents

Map of the dams on the Peace River A Map showing the existing dams on the Peace River, as well as the Site C Project
[click to view]

The Peace River
[click to view]

Keep The Peace An Anti-Site C Dam Sign, with the Peace River in the background.
[click to view]

Site C Dam Rendering
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorJames Joshua Young - [email protected] - Lund University
Last update06/12/2017