Bountiful Peace—hope for the Peace Valley

Some participants in Bountiful Peace—Richmond, Dec. 1, 2015. Arlene Boon photo.

Some participants in Bountiful Peace—Richmond, Dec. 1, 2015. Arlene Boon photo.

As you may know, an event named Bountiful Peace took place in Richmond last week. It was about saving the Peace Valley, and it was a wake-up call. That fertile land has been condemned to be flooded, but hope remains strong.

The Peace River would be blocked at Site C, near Fort St. John, by a hydroelectric dam—higher than Richmond’s tallest buildings and more than a kilometre long. Submerging the valley would change it from carbon sink to greenhouse gas emitter.

Crucially, it would destroy farmland that should help B.C. to adapt to climate change. The warming climate, along with the huge area of excellent soil, should enable the Peace Valley to produce an increasing amount and range of food, bolstering B.C. food security.

It would partly offset declining imports from California’s parched Central Valley as our population and its food needs rise. For British Columbians, the Peace Valley may be less replaceable than the Central Valley.

Unfortunately, we have provincial leaders who’ve skirted the Agricultural Land Commission, which would likely have conserved the Peace farmland, and the B.C. Utilities Commission, which might have rejected the dam. Unhelpfully, our leaders are going all out to flood the valley and not let it address climate change.

Still, if we citizens keep working to grasp and improve the situation, MLAs and potential MLAs will get the message. If the current B.C. government then stops the Site C project, excellent. Since it probably won’t, we need all who might form the next government to commit to cancelling Site C as soon as they take power.

As Bountiful Peace presenters made clear, it’s not too late. There’s site work in progress, but it can be put to new uses if the project is cancelled within 18 months or so. With dramatic timing, the next B.C. election is due in 17 months—on May 9, 2017.

Meanwhile, there’s ongoing legal action by First Nations and landowners. Since flooding the Peace Valley would be as bad for ecology as for agriculture, environmental groups like Sierra Club BC will also stay engaged.

That said, informed action by enough citizens is key. Good springboards include Stop the Site C Dam and the Peace Value Landowner Association’s info page.

Copyright © 2015 Garden City Conservation Society

Copyright © 2015 Garden City Conservation Society

I’ve just taken action by refining my “Keep the Peace” graphic, the issue at a glance. I’ll see if the campaign can use it on buttons or billboards or something in between. In any case, please act too.

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This article also appears as “Take action to keep the Peace,” one of my “Digging Deep” columns in the Richmond Review of December 9, 2015.

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