Peace River North MLA Pat Pimm was joined by Peace River South MLA Mike Bernier in announcing a $20 million fund from the province for the Peace region’s agricultural industry. The fund is one of several conditions on the approval certificate for the creation of BC Hydro’s recently approved Site C Dam.
The money is earmarked specifically to compensate Peace country agriculture producers whose land may be impacted by the development and operation of the site C Dam. “It’s basically put in place for land that has been lost for the region”, said MLA Pimm.
Environmental and social issues manager for BC Hydro, Siobhan Jackson, stated that the $20 million figure is based on net present values of agricultural economic activity in the region. The process by which the fund would be distributed is still being decided. It is expected that this fund would be able to respond to proposals and recommendations from the region.
The Peace River Grain Industry Development Council is being considered as the body responsible for distributing the funding. As Pimm went on to state, “[the Peace River Grain Industry Development Council] has been in place since 1993 and they’ve delivered these programs to the Peace country for many many years, and we think they can do a good job of it.”
MLA Pimm hopes the funding will enable the Peace region to produce more agriculture, to the potential extent that production could rival the Fraser Valley sometime in the future.
The establishment of a Peace Country liaison committee has also been announced, with the intention of ensuring that the concerns of all stakeholders are being addressed. “One of the things we want to do with the liaison committee is make sure that voices are being heard”, said MLA Bernier. Bernier went on to state that he wants local people to have the opportunity to get the jobs being created in the region going forward.
Other conditions among the 77 included in Site C’s environmental approval certificate are as follows:
- The creation of a wetland migration and compensation strategy
- The creation of a strategy for aboriginal business participation
- On-site health services for dam employees
- Establishment of construction protocols with the aim of minimizing impact to local wildlife habitats
- Housing construction for BC Hydro employees and low income families
- Reservoir greenhouse gas emissions monitoring during the first ten years of operation
- $200,000 to finance community recreation sites
- Establishment of three new boat launch and day-use sites
- Development and implementation of a trap-and-haul facility for fish passage