Planning begins to replace recreation sites lost to Site C

Work has begun on a plan to manage $200,000 in funding set aside to replace river access, parks and boat launches lost to the Site C dam.  

As part of the controversial $8.8 billion project's Environmental Assessment Certificate, granted in 2014, BC Hydro must replace shoreline access both upstream and downstream from the dam. But how that money will be spent remains to be seen.  

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The Crown corporation has asked the Peace River Regional District whether it would take a hand in managing the so-called Community Recreation Site Funds, which will likely be paid out through grants. The board expects to discuss further details of the plan with BC Hydro staff at an upcoming meeting.   

"As part of their (Hydro's) environmental assessment process, they said they'd work with stakeholders and users of the waterways to reestablish some of those recreational areas," PRRD Chief Administrative Officer Chris Cvik said.  

"It will be a long process. You want to talk to people who use the waterways," he said.  

The dam will flood 83 kilometres of the Peace River Valley, and is expected to have impacts on downstream parks and river access.  

While the details are not set in stone, Hydro suggests splitting the money between downstream sites and locations on the reservoir itself.  

"BC Hydro proposes that half of the general funds be allocated during the project construction period with a geographic focus outside the Site C project area, and the remaining half of the funds during the first ten years of project operations with a focus on the new reservoir," Site C environmental manager Siobhan Jackson wrote in a letter to the PRRD.  

Around $50,000 is being set aside specifically for projects on the river's south bank, part of a community impacts agreement with the District of Chetwynd.  

The funds are aimed at both day use and overnight facilities, and could include money for shelters, clearing projects, picnic tables, outhouses and boat launches.   

The dam continues to face lawsuits from First Nations and landowners hoping to block the project. BC Hydro expects it will be in service in 2024.

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