Trent University student Sam Murray tells us about the Site C Hydroelectric Dam Project

Site C is the large hydroelectric dam being constructed on the Peace River between Fort St. John and Hudson’s Hope, B.C.

According to BC Hydro, the dam would create 5,100 gigawatt hours of energy each year – which is enough to power 450,000 homes!!

But at what cost to our environment?        

83 km of river valley will be flooded in the region and 5,550 hectares of land will be eliminated!!

Approximately 69% of land is agriculture and farmers, ranchers, First Nations communities and heritage sites will be forced to leave.

Sam Murray wrote his 1st year environmental science research paper on the proposed Site C dam development on the Peace River in British Columbia.

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For Dr. Stephen Hill’s course, he was expected to look at a current controversial development project in the news.

He looked through various different sources for his research, including news articles, peer reviewed journals, and the websites of the developers to gather an informed view about the project.

Through Sam’s research, he learned that there were various stakeholders involved in the process, including the public, developers, government bodies, non-profit organizations, and First Nations communities.

One of Sam’s biggest lesson’s was this: don’t just take information as it is given! It is really important explore both sides of the story to formulate an informed argument.

He learned that there are both pros and cons to the construction of Site C and that both sides should be taken into consideration.

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For instance, the hydroelectric dams will decrease biodiversity, disrupt natural flow, and decrease agricultural land. Yet, it can generate plenty of energy for the surrounding areas.

Sam tells us that what surprised him most about this research project was the complexity of dealing with a development project of this scale.

With other university projects, he said that he has been researching things that have already happened– but with this unique project, he was identifying current information and articles that were in the news the day before.

He told us it was an engaging way to learn.

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One of the big take home messages from working on this project was the importance of listening to both sides of a story.

Transparency is critical and both sides must take into consideration the other’s agenda and work toward negotiating a solution!

Sam describes the importance of compromise, balance, and ways to find a mutual solution that works for all parties – such as providing compensation for the public and involving stakeholders in meaningful discussions.

Sam told us that unfortunately the environment and economy are often competing and that there is never going to be clear cut solutions.

Sam tells us:

“This project mainly helped me develop my research skills and allowed me to see how the environmental science department has a unique approach to learning. This project made me more interested in the environmental science department, which was a factor that initially drew me to Trent University.”

Thanks Sam and keep up the good work!

trentu

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