The mayor of Fort St. John has said her position on the Site C dam “entirely depends on the negotiations” that are ongoing surrounding the project’s environmental assessment.
“I’m staying neutral right up until we start negotiating,” Lori Ackerman, a city councillor prior to her election to the top seat in November 2011, told the Straight by phone.
Site C would be the third dam and hydroelectric-power generating station on the Peace River in northeastern B.C. According to B.C. Hydro’s website, it could have up to 1,100 megawatts of capacity and produce about 5,100 gigawatt hours of electricity per year. The $7.9-billion project is now being subjected to a joint federal and provincial environmental review.
“The Peace River is one of two major working rivers in the province…and it is our intention to ensure that we make them [the review panel] aware that this is going to impact our community,” Ackerman said. “So we’re asking our community to reflect on how it’s going to impact their life, their quality of life, the services that they rely on, the work that they do, and give us some feedback so we can go forward to the government, to B.C. Hydro, and the joint review panel.”
Bruce Lantz, the city’s previous mayor, told the Straight in 2009 that council had not taken a position on the project.
“The official city position, which occurred prior to my time on council, was that because it’s outside our area, it really has no particular bearing, and that the city would work with Hydro to see what kind of legacies they could get from the construction of Site C—if it goes ahead,” Lantz said in a sit-down interview at the time.
Ackerman argued that Fort St. John “is going to be the community most impacted by the dam, because it’s seven kilometres from our downtown. And we need to protect the assets that we have built up over the years—our infrastructure, our social fabric, the community’s recreational services.”
Project definition consultations, which are happening throughout the stages of the project, take place in Fort St. John on September 11.