Damming the Peace
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Damming the Peace

The hidden costs of the Site C Dam

By Wendy Holm

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Since the 1970s, the Site C Dam in northeastern British Columbia's Peace River Valley has been touted by B.C. Hydro and successive governments as necessary to meet the province's increasing energy needs. With its enormous $10 billion price tag, the dam would be the largest public works project in BC history. It would be the third dam on the Peace River, and destroy traditional unceded territory belonging to Treaty 8 First Nations.

Following the last provincial election, the newly appointed NDP government called for a review of the project, but work on the dam continues. This comes after protests by aboriginal groups and landowners, several lawsuits against the government, and federal government intervention to let the dam go ahead. More recently, there has been a call from a United Nations panel to review how the dam will affect Indigenous land.

This book presents the independent voices of citizen experts describing every important impact of the dam, including:

  • Sustainable energy expert Guy Dauncey on future energy demand, and whether there is likely to be a need for the dam's electricity
  • An interview with aboriginal activist Helen Knott on the dam's assault on traditional lands and culture, in particular Indigenous women
  • Agrologist Wendy Holm on the farm land impact — prime horticulture land important to food security and nutrition
  • Family physician Warren Bell on the effect that loss of traditional way of life and connection to the land has had on the health of aboriginal people
  • Wildlife biologist Brian Churchill with forty years' experience of studying its land and wildlife
  • Former environmental minister Joan Sawicki on government cover-ups and smoking guns
  • Energy industry watchdog Andrew Nikiforuk on the links between dams, fracking and earthquakes
  • Award-winning broadcaster Rafe Mair on how party politics corrupts political leadership, and the role of activism and civil disobedience in shaping government decision-making
  • David Schindler, one of the world's foremost water ecologists, explains the role dams like Site C will play in Canada's climate change strategy
  • Joyce Nelson connects the dots between the Site C dam and continental water sharing plans



Preface Framing the Shot, Alex Harris
Introduction, Wendy Holm

Chapter 1 Energy Alternatives to the Site C Dam in a Climate-Challenged World, Guy Dauncey
Chapter 2 Will Canada’s Future Be Dammed? Site C Could Be the Tip of the Iceberg, David Schindler
Chapter 3 “That’s How We See It”: Land, Trauma and Indigenous Resistance, Andrew MacLeod
Chapter 4 Bison, Blue Jays, Rainbow and Walleye: Peace River Biodiversity, Brian Churchill
Chapter 5 Rape of the Commons: The Impact of Site C on Farmland and Food Security, Wendy Holm
Chapter 6 The Big Lie: Why and How BC Hydro Dismissed the Peace River Valley Microclimate, Joan Sawicki
Chapter 7 An Unnatural History: Earthquakes, Dams and Fracking, Andrew Nikiforuk
Chapter 8 Broken Spirit: The Impact of Site C on Human Health, Warren Bell
Chapter 9 UNESCO: Downstream Impact on the Athabasca Delta, Andrew Nikiforuk
Chapter 10 Water Export: The Site C End-Game, Joyce Nelson

Chapter 11 Broken Country: The Cumulative Impact of Site C, Briony Penn
Chapter 12 Seeking Social Licence for the Site C Dam: A Planner’s Perspective from the Peace River Waterfront, Reg Whiten
Chapter 13 Is Site C Really Past “The Point of No Return”?, Zoë Ducklow
Chapter 14 The Sword of Reason and the Power of the Law: The Legal Right to a Healthy Environment, Silver Donald Cameron
Chapter 15 Democracy and Civil Disobedience, Rafe Mair


"A powerful resource for the resistance to the travesty called Site C. Wendy Holm, together with 14 top journalists and professionals, has produced a stellar call to action and provided all the information we need to prove our case. The fight to stop Site C is not over. Damming the Peace is our roadmap."

- Maude Barlow, author and activist

"Damming the Peace is a vital contribution to the public record on Site C. Its contributors each bring a vital perspective to the dialogue. For anyone interested and engaged in energy politics and our planet's looming climate crisis, it's a powerful and compelling read. One can only hope that with more educated and informed citizens will come a collective realization that we can't elevate the economy above what we need to survive, and that building more megadams epitomizes the folly of our ways."

- Dr. David Suzuki

"Damming the Peace provides an excellent series of articles by some of British Columbia's most gifted experts and writers. Even though the BC Government decided to go ahead with, rather than cancel, Site C, the economic, environmental, agricultural, geotechnical, energy and aboriginal issues raised in this book will continue to be important."

- Mike Harcourt, former B.C. premier and Vancouver mayor

"This collection of insightful and informed essays leaves no doubt about the true and devastating costs of Site C. Until we heed the evidence to cancel this project, these costs will continue to accrue, unnecessarily burdening us and future generations. A distributed, resilient, community-based energy future for B.C. is still possible; let us continue to work towards a better outcome for the Peace Valley, and for the province."

- Sonia Furstenau, MLA for Cowichan Valley

"Damming the Peace brings together a diverse field of experts who not only examine Site C, but other resource extraction projects and practices that when thrown together make a toxic mix of cumulative impacts for the Peace and beyond. The struggle for a healthy environment is our duty to ourselves, and future generations. As the fight to save the Peace River Valley continues, this informative book helps guide us to that goal."

- Ken Boon, Peace River Valley Farmer and President of the Peace Valley Landowners Association

"Damming the Peace is a must read for all B.C. citizens. These writers have captured the essence of the Site C debacle. The roots of this provincial decision reach much further into the fundamentals of democracy and the concepts of stewardship and sustainable practices. I believe that the decision to construct Site C strikes at the very core of our civilized society. The taxpayers of B.C. will rue the day that this proven absolutely unnecessary project was approved."

- Arthur Hadland, Peace Valley Farmer

"There is an "elephant in the room" — not the huge white elephant that you see at No-Site C rallies. This elephant is dark and invisible. The government does not talk about it ... No. This elephant is rather more sinister. Wendy Holm confronts it and exposes it. It's about exporting water."

- John Gellard The Ormsby Review

"Damming the Peace is an accessible, thoughtful and informative collection of essays that reveal the grave environmental, human and economic costs if the Site C dam is built."

- Tim Pelzer People's Voice

"Wendy Holm brings another perspective to the case against Site C, that of the production of crops."

- Nelson Star

"This book provides an organized and rigorous how to guide on the intellectual and fact-based opposition to Site C, and in doing this becomes a great model for a book on any long-term protest. Its ambition is to inform on the subject from every possible angle, keeping the Peace River, the region and its people in mind, rather than the expediency of the business and government angle, which is usually given at least equal weight by the mainstream media."

- Cathryn Atkinson Rabble

The style found in Damming the Peace is decidedly activist and is likely to be appealing to a wide audience, including those with little background on the topic. The wealth of data presented makes the volume a useful compendium for those looking to make a rational case against the dam.

- British Columbian Quarterly

"A massive, $10 billion hydroelectric dam project on British Columbias Peace River could threaten the First Nations peoples who live nearby. This volume dives deep into the potential impacts and decades of governmental cover-ups related to this long-planned project."

- John R. Platt The Revelator

"[I]s Site C past the point of no return? Its easy to feel fatigue at reviewing Site C, but its impacts are so significant and long lasting that a responsible citizenry needs to engage. The conversation is not over."

- Zoe Ducklow The Tyee

"Wendy Holm's Damming the Peace has its eye on the future — what will come if the dam is built?"

- Jonathan Peyton The Ormsby Review

"Ranging from Guy Dauncey's thoroughly researched review of energy alternatives that make the proposed output of Site C unnecessary to Joan Sawicki's celebration of the unique microclimate of the Peace Valley that makes it some of the most valuable farming land in BC, and Andrew MacLeod's eloquent piece on indigenous resistors, this is a book full of useful information."

- Tom Sandborn Columbia Journal

WENDY HOLM is a retired Agrologist, columnist, author and speaker. She has been named a Distinguished Alumni of UBC, and has received two Queen's Medals for contribution to community. She has won ten national journalism awards since 2002. She lives on Bowen Island, British Columbia.

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Publication Details:

Binding: Paperback, 272 pages
Publication Date: 1st April 2018
ISBN: 9781459413160
Format: 9in x 6in

Binding: Electronic book text, 272 pages
Publication Date: 1st April 2018
ISBN: 9781459413177
Format: EPUB

BISAC Code:  NAT011000, NAT029000, POL044000, SCI026000, SOC062000
Imprint: Lorimer


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