ScottSauer.ca  |  REALTOR®  |  1-604-317-9595

 

Aspiring homeowners in British Columbia who are trying to save a huge down payment might want to rethink their strategy, 5% down is all that is needed.  In an article for Alaskan Highway News, reporter William Stodalka writes that the prices of homes for sale in BC continue to rise as supply becomes scarcer while demand increases. Fort St. John, in particular, owes the increasing property prices to the booming oil and gas industry, with surprisingly shocking results:  In 2013 the average home increased in value by 10.3% according to BC Assessment.  A huge, scary increase in house prices for first time buyers, but a savoury gain for investors.

"The B.C. Northern Real Estate Board recently issued its annual affordable housing index. It indicated that the average home cost over $350,000, and that the percentage of household income when compared to the median income spent on homes was about 34.6 per cent.

This year, homes continued to cost over $350,000, but the percentage of income was about 35 per cent.

Fort St. John continued to remain the most expensive city to buy a home in northern B.C. on the list of 11 cities within the region."

Such conditions can make quality homes for sale in Fort St. John, BC harder to acquire, especially for those in the median income level. All hope is not lost, though, because an experienced REALTOR® like Scott Sauer will help them buy a house before they get priced out of the market.  A big part of this is working with a local mortgage specialists who, in turn can work out a payment plan that fits your budget. 

 

 

Scott Sauer not only has the appropriate skills and experience to manage a home purchase but can also provide useful insights on certain local factors that may affect real estate prices. I will explain why favourable economic conditions, similar to Fort St. John’s, is actually a mixed bag when looking at affordable housing.

On one hand, a good economic outlook leads to more jobs, higher income levels, and more home construction activity—signs that a city is a good place to settle down and prosper. On the other hand, job creation leads to population growth, which in turn leads to a greater demand for homes and a consequent price increase once new construction can’t keep up with demand. At present, the Fort St John housing market is on pace to match last years price increases of 10%, with the increase set to occur in mid-2014.

Consequently, this means that certain Fort St. John homes for sale worth $350,000 today may well cost at least $400,000 in just a few months. Fortunately, interested buyers can turn to a trusted and experienced REALTOR® like Scott Sauer who can help them purchase a dream home before the price sky rockets out of reach.

 

(Source: Chart: The high cost of housing, Alaska Highway News, June 4, 2014)

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Site C takes huge leap forward to Site C Approval

 

SUMMARY

In August 2013, the federal and provincial governments named a Joint Review Panel to
examine and to hold a public hearing on BC Hydro’s proposed Site C Clean Energy Project, a
third hydroelectric facility to be built on the Peace River, near Fort St. John. This is the report of
the Panel’s assessment of the Project, which the governments are required to publish. The
Panel was mandated to inquire into the environmental, economic, social, health, and heritage
effects of the Project and their significance, to examine proposals for the mitigation of adverse
effects, and to record assertions of Project effects on the Aboriginal rights and treaty rights of
the affected First Nations and Métis peoples.

Any large industrial project carries with it some costs that are not captured in a narrowly
economic analysis. The question is whether the benefits from the project outweigh those costs.
It is in the nature of a public hearing process that the advocates for each side speak as
forcefully as they can, and that there would appear to be no middle ground. The Panel’s
mandate required it to weigh both sides, and to present a balance sheet, accounting for its
associated recommendations, to allow elected provincial and federal governments to determine
if the benefits justify the costs. The decision on whether the Project proceeds is made by
elected officials, not by the Panel.

The benefits are clear. Despite high initial costs, and some uncertainty about when the power
would be needed, the Project would provide a large and long-term increment of firm energy and
capacity at a price that would benefit future generations. It would do this in a way that would
produce a vastly smaller burden of greenhouse gases than any alternative save nuclear power,
which B.C. has prohibited. The Project would improve the foundation for the integration of other
renewable, low-carbon energy sources as the need arises. The Project would also entail a
number of local and regional economic benefits, though many of these would be transfers from
other parts of the province or country. Among them would be opportunities for jobs and small
businesses of all kinds, including those accruing to Aboriginal people.

There are other economic considerations. The scale of the Project means that, if built on BC
Hydro’s timetable, substantial financial losses would accrue for several years, accentuating the
intergenerational pay-now, benefit-later effect. Energy conservation and end-user efficiencies
have not been pressed as hard as possible in BC Hydro’s analyses. There are alternative
sources of power available at similar or somewhat higher costs, notably geothermal power.
These sources, being individually smaller than Site C, would allow supply to better follow
demand, obviating most of the early-year losses of Site C. Beyond that, the policy constraints
that the B.C. government has imposed on BC Hydro have made some other alternatives
unavailable.

There are other costs, however, and questions of where they fall. Replacing a portion of the
Peace River with an 83-kilometre reservoir would cause significant adverse effects on fish and
fish habitat, and a number of birds and bats, smaller vertebrate and invertebrate species, rare
plants, and sensitive ecosystems. The Project would significantly affect the current use of land
and resources for traditional purposes by Aboriginal peoples, and the effect of that on Aboriginal
rights and treaty rights generally will have to be weighed by governments. It would not, however,
significantly affect the harvest of fish and wildlife by non-Aboriginal people. It would end
agriculture on the Peace Valley bottom lands, and while that would not be significant in the
context of B.C. or western Canadian agricultural production, it would highly impact the farmers
who would bear the loss. The Project would inundate a number of valuable paleontological,
archaeological, and historic sites. It would have modest effects on health, which could be
mitigated, although the health effects of methylmercury on people who eat the reservoir fish


require more analysis to be sure. For most users, outdoor recreation and tourism,
transportation, and navigation would also experience effects but not significant effects. Because
of the significant adverse effects identified on some renewable resource valued components in
the long-term, there would be diminished biodiversity and reduced capacity of renewable
resources, should the Project proceed. The Project would not have any measureable effect on
the Peace-Athabasca Delta.

Risks and associated environmental effects due to potential accidents and malfunctions have
been appropriately mitigated by BC Hydro through project design and planned project
management.

There would be the usual health and social risks common to boom towns. The low local
unemployment rate would mean that most of the Project workers would come from other parts
of the province and Canada. However, increased local demand would mean that a broader
range of goods and services would become available to all residents of Fort St. John. The local
economic upside would largely provide the resources to deal with possible problems, including
those related to health, education, and housing, especially if the arrangements BC Hydro is
willing to make with local authorities can be concluded.

The Peace River region has been and is currently undergoing enormous stress from resource
development. In this context, the Panel has determined that the Project, combined with past,
present and reasonably foreseeable future projects would result in significant cumulative effects
on fish, vegetation and ecological communities, wildlife, current use of lands and resources for
traditional purposes, and heritage. In some cases, these effects are already significant, even
without the Project.

BC Hydro proposed a suite of mitigation measures which the Panel accepts. The Panel arrived
at its own conclusions about the impact of the proposed Project and made recommendations in
consequence. The Panel evaluated all proposals by participants and believes that the ones
carried forward here represent a complete and practical list.

For ease of reference, the Panel’s specific conclusions are in shaded text boxes in each of the
chapters, followed by any necessary recommendations. A complete list of the Panel’s
conclusions and recommendations to be taken into account under section 5 of the Canadian
Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 is in Appendix 1.

 

 

 

Harry Swain
Jocelyne Beaudet
James Mattison

 


APPENDIX 1 LIST OF PANEL’S CONCLUSIONS AND
RECOMMENDATIONS

The Panel was required to conduct an assessment of the Project in a manner consistent with
the requirements of the Terms of Reference. The Panel has identified those conclusions and
recommendations that relate to the environmental effects to be taken into account under section
5 of CEAA 2012. See endnote.

The following provides the Panel’s conclusions on the significance of the effects of the Project
and potential impacts on asserted or established Aboriginal rights or treaty rights in the area of
the Project and its recommendations.

A number of the Panel’s recommendations are addressed to governments rather than BC Hydro
and are not to be interpreted as conditions to be attached to Project approvals. Rather, they are
put forward to assist governments and proponents with assessments of this and future projects.

The Panel has reached conclusions and makes recommendations as follows.

Alternative Means of Carrying out the Project

The Panel concludes that the Proponent’s assessment of alternative means of carrying out the
Project is appropriate.

Aquatic Environment

The Panel concludes that the Project would make small changes to the hydrology of the Peace
River, and such changes would be attenuated by the time the flows reach Peace River, Alberta.4

RECOMMENDATION 1

With respect to minimum flow, the Panel recommends that, if the Project proceeds, a
minimum release of 390 cubic metres per second from the Site C dam be a condition of
approval.

The Panel concludes that there may be some risk to existing infrastructure in Alberta from low
flows and that this risk has not been assessed.2

RECOMMENDATION 2

With respect to potential transboundary effects on hydrology, the Panel recommends that,
if the Project proceeds, the Proponent must consult with the Province of Alberta and
jointly develop an adaptive management plan to manage risks to infrastructure
downstream caused by low flows during reservoir filling and operation. The plan should
include:

• Assessment of risks to infrastructure;
• Monitoring of flows;
• Identification of problems; and
• Necessary mitigation through flow regulation or adjustment to Alberta
infrastructure to minimize impacts.



The Panel agrees with BC Hydro’s assessment that there would not be a change in ice
thickness, break-up time, or freeze-up water levels with the Project, downstream at Shaftsbury
near Peace River Alberta.2

The Panel agrees with BC Hydro’s study results that indicate the downstream extent of Site C's
influence on the ice regime would be approximately 550 kilometres downstream of the dam site
at Carcajou.2

The Panel concludes that the Project would result in negligible changes to fluvial
geomorphology and sediment transport.4

The Panel concludes the Project would result in localized adverse effects on groundwater that
would not be significant.4

The Panel concludes that there would be a risk of acid generation and metal leaching from
construction activities and reservoir creation. However, if the Panel’s recommendation is
implemented, the effects would not be significant.4

RECOMMENDATION 3

To address the potential risk of acid rock drainage and metal leaching from the Project
activities, the Panel recommends that, if the Project proceeds, BC Hydro must consult
with Environment Canada, Natural Resources Canada, and Ministries of Environment and
Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations to design a program to monitor water
quality and procedures to mitigate related issues that may arise and to implement the
program if necessary.

The Panel concludes there would be no effects from the Project on any aspect of the
environment in the Peace Athabasca Delta, and a cumulative effects assessment on the PAD is
not required.2

Fish and Fish Habitat

The Panel agrees with BC Hydro that the Project would cause significant adverse effects on
fish and fish habitat.1

The Panel concludes that the construction of the Project would result in significant adverse
cumulative effects on fish.1

Vegetation and Ecological Communities

The Panel agrees with BC Hydro that the effects of the Project on at-risk and sensitive
ecological communities would be significant.4

RECOMMENDATION 4

In order to improve the accuracy and reliability of the baseline mapping and habitat
interpretations and to inform mitigation measures and compensation, the Panel
recommends that, three month before any activity affecting these habitats, BC Hydro
must review its modeling and complete the field work needed to improve identification of
rare and sensitive communities and aid in delineation of habitats that may require extra
care in the development and operation of the Project.

The Panel disagrees with BC Hydro and concludes that the Project would have a significant
adverse effect on wetlands, in particular valley bottom wetlands.1


RECOMMENDATION 5

The Panel recommends that, if the Project proceeds, BC Hydro must conduct an
assessment of wetland functions lost to the Project that are important to migratory bird
and species at risk (wildlife and plants). The Panel also recommends BC Hydro monitor
construction and operation activities that could cause changes in wetland functions. The
results must inform the development of the mitigation measures to ensure wetland
functions at least meet federal and provincial regulatory and policy requirements. BC
Hydro must consult with Environment Canada and the Ministry of Forests, Lands and
Natural Resource Operations on the duration and frequency of monitoring in relation to
migratory birds, species at risk and other wildlife using wetlands.

RECOMMENDATION 6

The Panel recommends that, if the Project proceeds, BC Hydro must complete a Wetland
Compensation Plan that includes the results of the functions assessment, surveys, and
monitoring program identified above. In developing the Wetland Compensation Plan, BC
Hydro must:

a) Discuss migratory birds and species at risk with Environment Canada, the Ministry
of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and Aboriginal groups;
b) Ensure that the Wetland Compensation Plan achieves a full replacement of the
wetlands lost in terms of functions and compensates in terms of area;
c) Consult with interested and implicated agencies on the draft Wetland
Compensation Plan to ensure effects on Crown land are considered; and
d) Submit the final Wetland Compensation Plan to Environment Canada and other
relevant authorities no later than three months prior to any activity affecting the
wetlands.


The Panel agrees with BC Hydro that the Project would cause significant adverse effects on
rare plants.4

RECOMMENDATION 7

The Panel recommends that, if the Project proceeds, BC Hydro must undertake surveys
no later than three months prior to any activity affecting rare plants to determine whether
the rare plant species potentially facing extirpation are found elsewhere in the region. If
the plants cannot be found elsewhere, appropriate conservation methods to ensure the
viability of the rare plant species must be put in place, such as ensuring that seeds are
kept or relocation of plant communities is attempted.

Given the lack of assessment by BC Hydro, the Panel cannot conclude on effects of the
Project on plants of interest to Aboriginal groups.3

RECOMMENDATION 8

The Panel recommends that, if the Project proceeds, BC Hydro must conduct a
comprehensive assessment of effects on traditional plants in collaboration with Aboriginal
groups, three months before any activity affecting the plants, to identify areas where
plants of interest may be. The results should be used to improve the measures needed to
fully mitigate any adverse effects of the Project on plants traditionally used by Aboriginal
groups.

RECOMMENDATION 9

The Panel recommends that, if the Project proceeds, BC Hydro be prohibited from using
herbicides and pesticides near locations of plants of importance to Aboriginal groups.


The Panel agrees with BC Hydro that cumulative effects on vegetation and ecological
communities would be significant.1,3,4

Wildlife Resources

The Panel concludes that the Project would likely cause significant adverse effects to the
following species that may see their status of protection elevated. These species are: Nelson’s
sparrow; yellow rail; eastern phoebe; Le Conte’s sparrow; old world swallowtail, pikei
subspecies; Alberta arctic; striped hairstreak; great spangled fritillary, pseudocarpenteri
subspecies; coral hairstreak, titus subspecies; common wood-nymph, nephele subspecies;
Uhler’s arctic; tawny crescent; arctic blue, lacustris subspecies; Aphrodite fritillary, manitoba
subspecies; sharp-tailed grouse, jamesi subspecies and Baltimore oriole.1,3,4

The Panel disagrees with BC Hydro and concludes that the Project would likely cause
significant adverse effects to the western toad.4

The Panel disagrees with BC Hydro and concludes that the Project would likely cause
significant adverse effects to broad-winged hawk, short-eared owl, eastern red bat, little brown
myotis and northern myotis.4

The Panel agrees with BC Hydro that the Project would not likely cause significant adverse
effects on fisher and grizzly bear.3

The Panel concludes that the effects on caribou as a result of the Project would not be
significant.3

RECOMMENDATION 10

The Panel recommends that if the Project proceeds, the Proponent must conduct field
work to verify the modeled results for surveyed species at risk and determine, with
specificity and by ecosystem, the habitat lost or fragmented for those species. The
Proponent shall use these data to inform final project design and to develop additional
mitigation measures, as needed, in consultation with appropriate authorities.

RECOMMENDATION 11

The Panel recommends that if the Project proceeds, the Proponent must track updates to
the status of listed species identified by the Province, the Committee on the Status of
Endangered Wildlife in Canada, and the Species at Risk Act. Should the status of a listed
species change during the course of the Project, the Proponent must work with
Environment Canada and the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource
Operations to mitigate effects of the Project on the affected species.

RECOMMENDATION 12

The Panel recommends that Environment Canada complete a recovery strategy, in a
timely manner, for the species listed under schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act for
which recovery strategies have not yet been developed (Canada warbler, olive-sided
flycatcher and common nighthawk, rusty blackbird and short-eared owl and western toad).

The Panel concludes that the Project would likely cause significant adverse effects to
migratory birds relying on valley bottom habitat during their life cycle and these losses would be
permanent and cannot be mitigated.1


RECOMMENDATION 13

The Panel recommends that, should the Project proceed, BC Hydro must develop a
monitoring and mitigation program in consultation with Environment Canada to avoid the
loss of active migratory bird nests in the reservoir area and downstream of the dam.

RECOMMENDATION 14

The Panel recommends that, should the Project proceed, BC Hydro must develop
mitigation measures specific to migratory bird species in the Project area that address the
changes in aquatic and riparian-related food resources and other habitat features
associated with the change from a fluvial to a reservoir system, in consultation with
Environment Canada.

RECOMMENDATION 15

The Panel recommends that, should the Project proceed, BC Hydro must conduct a risk
assessment for bird collisions under the current transmission line design. BC Hydro must
determine if additional mitigation measures (e.g. line marking and diversions) could be
implemented to reduce the risk, in consultation with Environment Canada.

RECOMMENDATION 16

The Panel recommends that, should the Project proceed, BC Hydro be required to
develop a Compensation Plan for non-wetland migratory birds in consultation with
Environment Canada, and implement the plan to address significant adverse effects on
Canada warbler, Cape May warbler, and bay-breasted warbler. The plan must be
submitted to Environment Canada three months prior to any activity affecting the habitat.

The Panel agrees with BC Hydro that the Project would not likely cause significant adverse
effects on moose, elk, white-tailed deer and mule deer.1

RECOMMENDATION 17

The Panel recommends that, if the Project proceeds, the Proponent must, in collaboration
with the Province, determine whether additional lands owned by BC Hydro or Crown
Lands could be maintained as winter range for ungulates.

RECOMMENDATION 18

The Panel recommends that, if the Project proceeds, the Ministry of Forests, Lands and
Natural Resource Operations must conduct bi-annual ungulate surveys in Wildlife
Management Units overlapping with the LAA during Project construction and for a period
of 5 years after. This information must be provided to the Proponent to confirm the effects
of the Project and used by the Ministry to determine if mitigation is required (for direct or
indirect effects).

The Panel concludes that the wildlife species that would experience significant effects as a
result of the Project would also experience significant cumulative effects.1,3,4

The Panel concludes that given that fisher are blue-listed and likely already impacted by
human pressures, the Project effects in combination with past, existing and future projects may
cause significant cumulative effects.3

The Panel concludes that the Project would not likely cause significant cumulative effects on
ungulates.3

Current Use of Lands and Resources for Traditional Purposes

The Panel disagrees with BC Hydro and concludes that the Project would likely cause a
significant adverse effect on fishing opportunities and practices for the First Nations represented


by Treaty 8 Tribal Association, Saulteau First Nations, and Blueberry River First Nations, and
that these effects cannot be mitigated.3

The Panel disagrees with BC Hydro and concludes that the Project would likely cause a
significant adverse effect on hunting and non-tenured trapping for the First Nations represented
by Treaty 8 Tribal Association and Saulteau First Nations, and that these effects cannot be
mitigated.3

The Panel concludes that the Project would likely cause a significant adverse effect on other
traditional uses of the land for the First Nations represented by Treaty 8 Tribal Association,
Saulteau First Nations, and Blueberry River First Nations, and that some of these effects cannot
be mitigated.3

The Panel concludes that the Project would likely cause significant adverse cumulative effects
on current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes.3

RECOMMENDATION 19

The Panel recommends that, if the Project does not proceed, the Province, after
consultation with affected local parties, remove the flood reserve in a manner that
preserves the agricultural, wildlife and heritage values of the Peace River valley.

RECOMMENDATION 20

The Panel recommends that the Province set aside the hunting, fishing and trapping
rights in the Peace Moberly Tract for people holding Section 35 rights under the
Constitution Act, 1982. The Panel also recommends that the Province and affected First
Nations enter discussions on the Area of Critical Community Interest with a view to the
harmonious accommodation of all interests in this land.

Other Harvest of Fish and Wildlife Resources

The Panel agrees with BC Hydro that the effects of the Project on harvest of fish would not be
significant.5

The Panel agrees with BC Hydro that the effects of the Project on harvest of wildlife would not
be significant.5

The Panel concludes that, if the Project proceeds, some tenured trappers and outfitters would
be adversely affected by the construction and operation activities of the Project. If the Panel’s
recommendation is implemented, this effect would not be significant.3,5

RECOMMENDATION 21

The Panel recommends that, if the Project proceeds, fair compensation should be offered
to affected tenured trappers and outfitters for long term losses.

The Panel concludes that more information is needed to assess the effects of the Project on
harvest of wildlife resulting from an influx of workers from outside the Peace region and the
opening of the territory by the construction of new access roads and the improvement of the
road system.3,5

RECOMMENDATION 22

The Panel recommends that, if the Project proceeds, BC Hydro must determine, in
collaboration with applicable agencies, stakeholders and Aboriginal groups, what
enforceable restrictions can be put in place with respect to the Project access road, and


which existing roads in the vicinity and new roads built during construction should be
decommissioned.

The Panel agrees with BC Hydro that the cumulative effects on harvest of fish and wildlife
would not be significant.3,5

Agriculture

The Panel concludes that the permanent loss of the agricultural production of the Peace River
valley bottomlands included in the local assessment area of the Project is not, by itself and in
the context of B.C. or western Canadian agricultural production, significant. The Panel further
concludes that this loss would be highly significant to the farmers who would bear the loss, and
that financial compensation would not make up for the loss of a highly valued place and way of
life.5

The Panel agrees with BC Hydro that the Project would not cause cumulative effects on
agriculture.5

Effects on Other Resources Industries

The Panel concludes that the Project would have negligible effects on the regional oil and gas,
forest, and mineral and aggregate industries.5

Transportation

The Panel concludes that the traffic at some places on Highway 97 is already dangerous, and
during the period of construction, the Project would add to that, but there would be no residual
effects after the construction period. If the Panel’s recommendations are implemented, this
effect would not be significant during construction.

RECOMMENDATION 23

As proposed by BC Hydro, the Panel recommends that, if the Project proceeds, it must
establish a current baseline of fog occurrences at Taylor Bridge and its approaches in
Taylor, as well as follow-up monitoring during the first years of operation to evaluate the
magnitude of any changes as a result of the Project.

 

RECOMMENDATION 24

The Panel recommends that, if the Project proceeds, BC Hydro must conduct monitoring
of the Level of Service and road safety. Monitoring and a follow-up program shall focus on
the following locations:

• Highway 97 at Old Fort Road in Fort St. John,
• Highway 97 at 100th Street in Fort St. John,
• Highway 97 at 85th Avenue in Fort St. John,
• Canyon Drive in Hudson’s Hope,
• Beattie Drive in Hudson’s Hope,
• Clarke Avenue in Hudson’s Hope.

 

RECOMMENDATION 25

The Panel recommends that, if the Project proceeds, BC Hydro’s Traffic Monitoring and
Management Plan and associated work schedules must be prepared, subject to safety
considerations, to minimize delays and nuisance caused by the realignment of Highway
29, particularly during peak visitor periods.


Air Navigation

The Panel concludes that the Project would not result in significant adverse effects on air
navigation.4

Water Navigation

The Panel concludes that the Project would have adverse effects on navigation use of the
Peace River but that they would not be significant because the river would still be navigable
above and below the dam site. The Panel further concludes that the loss would be significant
for the small number of people who traverse the dam site.4

The Panel concludes that there would be no cumulative effects on navigation of the Peace
River if the Project proceeds.4

Outdoor Recreation and Tourism

The Panel concludes that the construction period would have an adverse effect on outdoor
recreation activities associated with the Peace River, but this effect would not be significant.5

The Panel concludes that the cumulative effects on outdoor recreation and tourism would not
be significant.5

Population and Demographics

The Panel concludes that population effects would be primarily limited to the construction
phase of the Project, when modest increments to the local and City population would occur.
Because most of these effects would be limited to the construction phase, the Panel concludes
these effects would not be significant.

Housing

Considering the mitigation commitments presented by BC Hydro to address housing issues
related to the Project, the Panel is satisfied that there would not be significant adverse effects
on housing solely as a result of the Project.

RECOMMENDATION 26

The Panel recommends, regardless of whether or not the Project proceeds, that the
Province give sympathetic attention to an extension of Fort St. John’s municipal
boundaries so that contiguous urbanizing areas, plus a reserve, are brought within the
planning, service, and taxation ambit of the City’s government.

Community Infrastructure and Services

The Panel concludes that the general stress on community infrastructure and services caused
by the Project could be managed with sufficient resources. The Panel is confident that mitigation
in the form of additional resources would be provided by BC Hydro and appropriately managed
by the communities (including municipalities) such that effects would not be significant.

RECOMMENDATION 27

The Panel recommends that, should the Project proceed, BC Hydro must include in its
agreement with the City of Fort St. John expenses for Project-related costs of child and
family welfare services.


Employment, Labour Markets and Local Residents

The Panel concludes that the Project would further tighten a labour market where the
unemployment rate is only 3.6 percent, and that it is in everyone’s interest to ensure that local
Aboriginal workers are as well-equipped as possible to compete in that market.

The Panel further concludes that, with the implementation of the proposed mitigation
measures, there should be no significant adverse effects on the labour market.

RECOMMENDATION 28

The Panel recommends that, if the Project proceeds, BC Hydro must work with training
institutions to focus on employment in indirect and induced sectors for Aboriginal workers,
as these jobs are likely to be longer lived than those related strictly to construction.

Local Government Revenue

The Panel concludes that revenues to be received from existing sources, together with
payments contemplated in negotiations between the Proponent and local governments, would
generally be sufficient to maintain current service quality levels. Several such agreements are
already in place. No significant adverse effects are foreseen, nor are cumulative effects.

The Panel further concludes that the negotiations of Impact and Benefit Agreements with local
affected Aboriginal groups would generally be sufficient to maintain current service quality levels
both on- and off-reserve.

Regional Economic Development

The Panel concludes that there would be excellent opportunities for new and existing jobs and
businesses during the construction phase.

Human Health

The Panel concludes that, if the Project proceeds, there is a potential for health effects from a
degradation of air quality in the region of Fort St. John, Taylor, Hudson’s Hope and for
Aboriginal groups using areas close to the construction activities of clearing and burning, the
construction of access roads and the realignment of Highway 29. The predicted results would
have to be confirmed through monitoring and the mitigation measures adjusted if needed.
These effects could be overcome with proper mitigation. If the Panel’s recommendation is
implemented, there would be no residual effects.3,5

RECOMMENDATION 29

The Panel recommends that, if the Project proceeds, BC Hydro must:

• Add monitoring at sensitive receptor group locations to the monitoring plan for
dust and smoke;
• Prolong the monitoring proposed for the construction period into the first two
years of operation for particulate matter and dustfall. In case of exceedances,
appropriate mitigation measures must be implemented;
• Identify places of high Aboriginal group use and develop mitigation measures
should adverse effects be predicted at those locations; and
• Ensure procedures are developed to warn and protect sensitive populations in
cases of exceedance.



The Panel disagrees with BC Hydro that there would be no effects on individual wells. There
would be a risk of exceedances of drinking water quality guidelines for a number of wells. If the
Panel’s recommendation is implemented, there would no residual effects.5

RECOMMENDATION 30

The Panel recommends that, if the Project proceeds, BC Hydro be required to monitor
potentially affected wells, starting as soon as Project approval is received. Monitoring
must be done twice a year for 10 years. If any changes are observed the owners must be
informed. If any functionality problems such as poor water quality or low yield result from
the Project, BC Hydro must work with the well owner(s) to provide an alternate source of
potable water.

For the City of Fort St. John’s and the District of Taylor’s water supply wells, the Panel agrees
with BC Hydro that exceedances of drinking water quality guidelines are not anticipated.5

The Panel concludes that there are predicted exceedances of the BC Oil and Gas Commission
guidelines and changes in sound levels at some receptors - above 5 dBA at one residence and
above 10 dBA at worker camps. If the Panel’s recommendation is implemented, there would be
no residual effects.5

RECOMMENDATION 31

The Panel recommends that, if the Project proceeds, BC Hydro must:

• Design a work and noise management schedule that allows an uninterrupted
eight hour sleep schedule for workers; and
• Manage Project noise to provide quiet enjoyment to residents, even if it means
temporary relocation.


The Panel agrees with BC Hydro’s conclusion that no adverse health effects associated with
exposure to electric and magnetic fields are expected.3

RECOMMENDATION 32

The Panel recommends that, if the Project proceeds, BC Hydro must measure postconstruction
electric and magnetic field levels at the right-of-way edge where habitation
sites exist and communicate the results to occupants. If monitoring determines an
exceedance of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Raditation Protection
guidelines (4.2 kV/m) at a habitation site, BC Hydro must provide the necessary
resources for relocation.

Regarding fish consumption data used by BC Hydro in the Mercury Human Health Risk
Assessment, the Panel concludes there are no reliable data available at this point.3,5

RECOMMENDATION 33

The Panel recommends that, if the Project proceeds, BC Hydro must work cooperatively
to obtain site-specific data from Aboriginal groups. The dietary information to be collected
from potentially impacted groups should include:

• Species and size of fish caught for consumption;
• Location where fish are caught for consumption;
• Consumption of fish by age group;
• Parts of fish consumed;
• Fish preparation methods;



• Fish meal sizes by age group;
• Fish meal frequency; and
• Other relevant consumption information (e.g. events where consumption is
higher over a short period of time such as a camping event).


The Panel concludes that only monitoring of the fish in the reservoir and the consumption
habits of the people would provide an adequate base for the development of effective mitigation
measures for methylmercury.3,5

RECOMMENDATION 34

The Panel recommends that, if the Project proceeds, the monitoring program must require
the collaboration of Health Canada and include:

• Involving local Aboriginal communities and the First Nations Health Authority in
the design, implementation, management and interpretation and communication
of results from the methylmercury monitoring program for fish;
• Collecting representative data through collaboration with Aboriginal communities
to enable meaningful sampling of the appropriate fish species and fish size in
areas where groups harvest fish. The spatial extent of the sampling program
should include tributaries used by Aboriginal groups; and
• Working with all levels of government to communicate information to Aboriginal
groups and others regarding potential fish consumption advisories and other
health-related bulletins or information as may be necessary.

 

RECOMMENDATION 35

The Panel recommends that, in the event that Health Canada determines a consumption
advisory is needed, the Chief Medical Officer of Northern Health must be notified by
Health Canada. The advisory should be designed and implemented in accordance with
federal and provincial procedures for issuing fish consumption advisories. It should be
issued using good practice including:

• Culturally appropriate communications to Aboriginal groups;
• Mechanisms to receive and respond to inquiries from local communities in
regards to the advisories; and
• A collaborative monitoring process with Aboriginal and other communities.

 

RECOMMENDATION 36

The Panel recommends that, if the Project proceeds, effective communication with
Aboriginal communities and other stakeholders is required by Health Canada whether an
advisory is needed or not. This should include:

• Communication of the results of the Mercury Human Health Risk Assessment,
including guidance for people consuming more than one species of fish and how
they can continue to eat multiple species without exceeding the provisional
tolerable daily intake for methylmercury; and
• Communication of consumption limits in grams per week rather than servings
per week. Further guidance should be provided as to what a gram of fish is
equivalent to in order to make the communications more user-friendly.



The Panel concludes that some homes close to the construction of the dam and in Hudson’s
Hope shoreline protection activity area would experience an increase in noise combined with a
degradation of the ambient air quality.3,5

RECOMMENDATION 37

The Panel recommends that, if the Project proceeds, where monitoring indicates that
homeowners are experiencing serious nuisance as a result of the Project, BC Hydro be
required to mitigate those effects, up to and including relocation if necessary.

The Panel agrees with the Proponent that there would be no significant adverse effects on
human health taking into account the mitigation measures proposed by the Proponent and the
Panel recommendations.3,5

Because of the uncertainty in the assessment, the Panel concludes that there is no need at
present to do a cumulative effects assessment on health indicators but that one may be
required once effects are confirmed through monitoring.3,5

Heritage Resources

The Panel concludes that residual adverse effects on physical heritage resources caused by
the Project would be adverse and significant.3,5

RECOMMENDATION 38

The Panel recommends that, if the Project proceeds, BC Hydro must monitor reservoir
erosion during occurrences of low reservoir levels and investigate, according to the
requirements of the Archaeology Branch of the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural
Resource Operations, any potentially new-found sites and carry out emergency salvage.

 

RECOMMENDATION 39

The Panel recommends that, if the Project proceeds, BC Hydro must conduct monitoring
of shoreline erosion downstream (for approximately 2 km) as part of its chance find
procedures to determine if physical heritage resources are affected. The Panel
recommends that BC Hydro undertake this monitoring for any spills from the Project
reservoir, for a period of 2 years.

 

RECOMMENDATION 40

The Panel recommends, if the Project proceeds, that BC Hydro must continue its
collaboration with First Nations and the Métis Nation British Columbia, for the days
committed on ground truthing for the identification of any burial sites that the Project may
disturb.

 

RECOMMENDATION 41

The Panel recommends that, if the Project proceeds, BC Hydro must provide sufficient
funds to local accredited facilities in close proximity to the Project to curate and display
the recovered resources. The Panel further recommends that these funds be provided
only to facilities that agree to work with Aboriginal groups on the display and curation of
those artifacts.

The Panel concludes that the cumulative adverse effects on heritage resources would be
significant.3,5

The Panel concludes that there would be significant adverse effects of the Project on cultural
heritage resources for both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.3,5


The Panel concludes that the effect of the Project on visual resources would be a significant
adverse effect.3,5

GHG Emissions

The Panel concludes that the Project would produce more power per gram of CO2e than any
alternative (non-nuclear) over its lifetime.2

The Panel agrees with BC Hydro that the Project’s effects on greenhouse gases would not be
significant.2

The Panel agrees with BC Hydro that the contribution of the Project to the provincial, national
and global problem would not be significant.2

Effects of the Environment on the Project

The Panel concludes that the design of the Project adequately accounts for possible adverse
effects of the environment on the Project.

Accidents and Malfunctions

The Panel concludes that the effects of the Project from minor accidents and malfunctions are
not likely to be significant and that BC Hydro has demonstrated appropriate diligence in its
analysis and proposed mitigation.

The Panel concludes that a Site C dam breach would result in significant adverse effects, but
that the probability of failure occurring is remote. The Panel further concludes that any effects
of a cascading dam failure would result in significant cumulative effects, but that the probability
of cascading failure is extremely remote.

RECOMMENDATION 42

The Panel recommends that, if the Project proceeds, BC Hydro be required to conduct an
assessment of the impacts of a multiple cascading dam breach and share the results of
that study with the Government of Alberta and the authorities of the towns that would be
affected. The Panel recommends that BC Hydro consult with Alberta and emergency
management officials in both provinces on communication and contingency plans to
address the potential occurrence of a multiple cascading dam breach.

Cumulative Effects Assessment

The Panel concludes that, whether the Project proceeds or not, there is a need for a
government-led regional environmental assessment including a baseline study and the
establishment of environmental thresholds for use in evaluating the effects of multiple, projects
in a rapidly developing region.

RECOMMENDATION 43

Given the rapid developments foreseen for northeast B.C., Ministers may wish to consider
commissioning a regional baseline study and environmental assessment as a public good
and a basis for planning and regulating all activities requiring review. Such a study would
greatly assist future proponents in all sectors, notably oil and gas, forestry, mining and
energy production.


Because of the importance of cumulative effects assessment, the Panel concludes that there
is a need to improve and standardize cumulative effects assessment methods.

RECOMMENDATION 44

Whether the Project proceeds or not, the Panel recommends that the Canadian
Environmental Assessment Agency undertake, on an urgent basis, an update of its
guidance on cumulative effects assessment, taking into account the views of the
provinces.

Capacity of Renewable Resources

The Panel concludes that because of the significant adverse effects identified on some
renewable resource valued components in the long-term, if the Project is to proceed, there
would be diminished biodiversity and reduced capacity of renewable resources.

Environmental Management Plans, Follow-up and Monitoring

Subject to the recommendation below, the Panel is satisfied with the Proponent’s
environmental management, including its mitigation measures, monitoring programs, and followup
programs.

RECOMMENDATION 45

The Panel recommends that, if the Project is to proceed, all recommendations of the
Panel directed to BC Hydro and mitigation measures proposed by BC Hydro become
conditions of Project approval.

Purpose of the Proposal

The Panel rejects, as a governing purpose, the maximization of the hydraulic potential of the
Peace River.

Project Benefits

The Panel concludes that the Project must rest on its main claims - that it would supply
electricity that B.C. customers need and would pay for, at a lower combination of cash and
external costs than any alternative - and not on regional economic benefits.

Project Costs

The Panel cannot conclude on the likely accuracy of Project cost estimates because it does
not have the information, time, or resources. This affects all further calculations of unit costs,
revenue requirements, and rates.

RECOMMENDATION 46

If it is decided that the Project should proceed, a first step should be the referral of Project
costs and hence unit energy costs and revenue requirements to the BC Utilities Commission
for detailed examination.

Demand

The Panel concludes that BC Hydro’s forecasting techniques are sound, but uncertainties
necessarily proliferate in long-term forecasts.


The Panel concludes that it is unlikely that the transmission and liquefaction energy
requirements of the new liquefied natural gas industry will be satisfied by any source except
natural gas itself, and thus that BC Hydro’s Integrated Resource Plan sensitivity scenario of
“Low Liquefied Natural Gas” forecast is most likely correct.

The Panel concludes that, basing a $7.9 billion Project on a 20-year demand forecast without
an explicit 20-year scenario of prices is not good practice. Electricity prices will strongly affect
demand, including Liquefied Natural Gas facility demand.

RECOMMENDATION 47

The Panel recommends that BC Hydro construct a reasonable long-term pricing scenario
for electricity and its substitutes and update the associated load forecast, including
Liquefied Natural Gas demand, and that this be exposed for public and Commission
comment in a BC Utilities Commission hearing, before construction begins.

Demand Moderation

The Panel concludes that the demand-side management yield ought to at least keep up with
the growth in gross demand, and therefore the potential savings from 2026 to 2033 may be
understated.

Using BC Hydro’s price elasticity of demand of -0.57, accepting BC Hydro’s forecast of gross
demand, and positing a real price increase of 50 percent from 2014 to 2033, the Panel
concludes that net demand in 2033 is likely to be about 65 terawatt hours.

The Panel concludes that demand management does not appear to command the same
degree of analytic effort as does new supply.

Supply: Energy and Capacity

The Panel concludes that methodological problems in the weighing and comparison of
alternatives render unitized energy costs only generally reliable as a guide to investment. The
Panel is more confident about the ranking of BC Hydro’s projects, or independent power
producers’ projects, or demand side management projects considered as separate lists.
Uncosted attributes such as the ability to follow load, geographical diversity, or the ability to
assist with the integration of intermittent sources need more analytical attention.

The Panel concludes that a number of supply alternatives are competitive with Site C on a
standard financial analysis, although in the long term, Site C would produce less expensive
power than any alternative.

The Panel concludes that relying on exports to absorb surplus production would likely be very
expensive.

Research

The Panel concludes that a failure to pursue research over the last 30 years into B.C.’s
geothermal resources has left BC Hydro without information about a resource that BC Hydro
thinks may offer up to 700 megawatts of firm, economic power with low environmental costs.

The Panel concludes that analytic efforts to quantify the potential benefits of geographic
diversity and climate-induced changes to hydrology could allow a better characterization of
important resources.


RECOMMENDATION 48

The Panel recommends, regardless of the decision taken on Site C, that BC Hydro
establish a research and development budget for the resource and engineering
characterization of geographically diverse renewable resources, conservation techniques,
the optimal integration of intermittent and firm sources, and climate-induced changes to
hydrology, and that an appropriate allowance in its revenue requirements be approved by
the BC Utilities Commission.

Policy Constraints on Supply

The Panel concludes that, under the Low Liquefied Natural Gas case, available resources
could provide adequate energy and capacity until at least 2028.

Panel’s Overall Analysis on Need for the Project

The Panel concludes that B.C. will need new energy and new capacity at some point. Site C
would be the least expensive of the alternatives, and its cost advantages would increase with
the passing decades as inflation makes alternatives more costly.

The Panel concludes that the Proponent has not fully demonstrated the need for the Project on
the timetable set forth.

RECOMMENDATION 49

The Panel recommends that, if Ministers are inclined to proceed, they may wish to
consider referring the load forecast and demand side management plan details to the BC
Utilities Commission.

 

RECOMMENDATION 50

Regardless of its decision on Site C, the Province should update its guidance on the
social discount rate or rates to be used for the analysis of societal costs and benefits for
projects built or procured by public sector entities.-

-
1 CEAA 2012, s. 5(1)(a)
2 CEAA 2012, s. 5(1)(b)
3 CEAA 2012, s. 5(1)(c)
4 CEAA 2012, s. 5(2)(a)
5 CEAA 2012, s. 5(2)(b)

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