Liberal government trying to block agricultural commission review of Site C

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VICTORIA — After preventing the B.C. Utilities Commission from reviewing the proposed Site C dam, the Liberal government is now trying to block a review by the Agricultural Land Commission, say New Democrats.

“The Liberal government has already blocked the utilities commission from reviewing the economics of this $7.9 billion project on behalf of ratepayers. Now we’ve learned that the government wants to block the ALC from reviewing the flooding of nearly 4,000 hectares of farmland that this current proposal would entail,” said New Democrat energy critic John Horgan.

“This is the largest single exclusion of land in the history of the Agricultural Land Reserve, and the B.C. Liberals are going to shield this project from a full review.”

In a letter, Energy Minister Bill Bennett assured B.C. Hydro that if the project passes its environmental assessment, the government will take “appropriate action” to ensure that the project is exempted from a review by the ALC.

This revelation comes just weeks after British Columbians learned about a government plan that would have seen the ALC and ALR dismantled, and control over land use decisions for close to half the province handed over to the Oil and Gas Commission.

“This is another disappointing example of the Liberal government deliberately bypassing regulatory processes. But these regulators are in place for a reason: to ensure that the government isn’t able to ignore important factors like the interests of ratepayers, or the importance of agricultural land,” said Horgan.

“If Site C is the right project, it should be able to withstand an economic analysis by the BCUC and a full review by the ALC. If this is the right project for B.C., it will go ahead.”