Power projects said to undermine future

'"I think we're literally at a watershed point in our province'

Mike Youds / Kamloops Daily News
April 24, 2013 01:00 AM

Rafe Mair

B.C. isn't confronted with just two pipeline proposals but a matrix of energy-related developments crisscrossing the province and amounting to an unprecedented drain on finite water resources, Rafe Mair and Damien Gillis told a gathering on Tuesday night.

That means voters need to familiarize themselves with B.C.'s position in what they referred to as the "carbon corridor" vision for Western Canada.

"I think we're literally at a watershed point in our province," Mair said, adding that the course of events in recent years has changed his views. The former Kamloops lawyer, MLA, author and radio commentator has been collaborating with Gillis, a documentary filmmaker.

They maintain an online environmental journal called The Common Sense Canadian, based on their belief that mainstream media are not telling the full story of B.C.'s systematic environmental degradation.

And they've hit the campaign trail to spread their message to Interior residents in the run-up to May 14.

"I'm not here shilling for any political party," Mair said. "I'm campaigning because I'm an old man and I think we're literally at a watershed point in our province."

With this election, voters have a last chance to alter the course of the province's energy developments - including pipelines, the proposed Site C dam and independent power projects - to ensure that economics don't undermine the essential quality of life, he said.

Gillis said there has been little mention of the full costs of the vision for liquefied natural gas development in B.C.'s northeastern corner, touted as a long-term solution to provincial debt.

"We believe there are a lot of holes in this theory and also a lot of tradeoffs," said Gillis, whose family farmed in the Peace for a century before it was flooded in 1966. "It's going to be a boondoggle. It's going to be highly subsidized and it's not going to work."

Hydraulic fracturing used to extract the gas poses environmental risks, uses vast amounts of water and is energy-intensive on its own, he said. He showed clips from Fractured Land, a film he's producing on the issue, suggesting strong community resistance to the energy agenda.

"The fracking going on in the ground is really a metaphor for what's going on in communities. Water really permeates all these issues."

At the same time, the framework of safeguards developed over time to protect Canada's environment has been undermined, he said.

Mair said the consultation process for so-called run-of-river projects, which have proliferated over the past decade, is a sham. When the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District opposed the Ashlu River hydro project, the government enacted legislation to overrule the process on every run-of-river project, he said.

"I'd rather have a root canal without anesthetic than go to another one of those," he said. "It really is unbelievable."

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