Site C Dam decision

The weekly editorial for the 100 Mile Free Press

The Site C decision came down this week, with the NDP deciding to let the project go ahead.

Being married into a ranching family, living on a ranch and having spoken to ranchers with losses to wildfires, I can understand (although maybe only a little bit) the disappointment of some of the ranchers in the Peace River Valley. While I can’t speak for First Nations, I’m sure some of their sentiments are similar.

Ranchers who will lose their land are likely to have an emotional connection to their property (my wife certainly does).

Ranches are often passed down through generations, meaning that for some it’ll be akin to having their heritage washed away.

In the provincial media, for example, we’ve heard a lot about the Boon family who are in this situation.

Ignoring the emotional and heritage aspect, there is a bit of a financial aspect that’s being overlooked.

Even if we presume that the Boons are being paid what their property is worth (there’s some disagreement on this but let’s presume they are), it could mean the end of a ranching lifestyle.

Ranching isn’t a super profitable business, meaning that all the little differences matter.

If with the money they’re given they can buy a ranch with the same capacity, they may not be able to make it work or have to work incredibly hard to get to know a new property.

Provided they use the money to go back into ranching, there’ll be all kinds of questions: what’s the soil like for irrigation, where are the spots dangerous for cows to water, where are the noxious weed patches. The list goes on.

Having this type of knowledge of a place isn’t something that shows up on property evaluations but I’m sure it makes a big difference if you have it.

I’m not sure if the NDP made the right decision or not; without really diving into the details and reports, it’s hard for any of us to say (on a personal level, being largely removed from the whole situation in the Cariboo, if my costs are going to go up I’d much rather have it be to produce green energy, even if B.C. ends up selling it, than for bridge tolls in the Lower Mainland).

However, on a project in its third year of construction and billions committed, the decision to continue always seemed inevitable; the money used to review the project, could have been much better used to compensate those affected instead.

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