Letter from Peace Valley Farmer to Justin Trudeau

The Site C dam is not only not needed but is a huge mistake. The inflated jobs numbers are a lie, the costs are under estimated and the warnings of experts and citizens alike have been ignored.

We need this valley, not for the possible power or water, but for the possible food, the amazing wildlife habit and the cultural heritage. My parents and I farm both in and out of the peace valley, growing mostly canola and wheat, but also oats, barley and raise beef cattle. Next year, my girlfriend a (horticultural student) plans on starting a small certified organic market garden and I plan on trying some organic sunflowers, peas, quinoa, and maybe even hemp. Unfortunately though, BC Hydro wants to re-align the highway through our property/ house and flood a lot of land we farm. So some of those plans are in jeopardy, but I didn’t write you to whine about that.

The Peace River Valley has the potential to feed one million people, and even more as the effects of climate change become stronger. I was at a meeting in Fort St John where climate specialists were predicting an extra 29 frost free days up here in the Peace by 2050. That adds the possibility of vineyards, orchards and especially market gardens, which are labor intensive and would create 1000’s of jobs in perpetuity. I already have a small orchard with cherry’s, apples and plums on my property and it flourishes with minimal maintenance down here in the valley, and my neighbors grow cantaloupe and melons among other things. Another example would be a 160 acre field on the bottom flat by my house known as “the old potato farm.” I wonder what people grew there before BC Hydro began stifling agriculture and food production in the peace valley.

This whole thing is saddening, particularly with droughts to the south of us, the rising costs of food and the rapid loss of both wild habitat and agricultural land worldwide. Our fragile ecosystems up have already been devastated by industry and this proposed disaster will cut the Yellowstone to Yukon corridor in half. In the Peace River Valley we have herds of elk that swim the river, but will not be able to swim the proposed lake. There’s swans living in the sloughs to be flooded and lots of moose that winter in the warm valley, but will no longer have wintering/ birthing grounds and so will be driven into the mouths of waiting wolves, causing the province to shoot more wolves from helicopters. Not to mention all the eagles that BC hydro has made homeless by cutting down their nesting trees. This is not working with the planet, its killing it!

This year, our farm won a yield challenge put on by Dekalb, with a yield of 58 bushels per acre of canola, on a field down along the river, beating other farmers from all over the BC and Alberta Peace regions. All totaled our canola crops on the bottom flats along the river, yielded an average of 44 bushels per acre, averaging 13 bu/acre more than other fields higher up and away from the river. To people who don’t know, that’s a lot. As an example, Monsanto spends millions every year, genetically modifying their seed, attempting to get 3 or 4 bushels more per acre then their competition. So gaining 13 bushels out of a 35-40bu/acre crop, that’s amazing and about a 30% gain. The fact that it’s achieved by simply moving down into the micro climate of the Peace River Valley, well that’s something worth preserving. I came back to work on the family farm from the oil patch because I realized that I’ll never be able to eat oil, drink liquefied natural gas, or breath electricity, but that I can help feed the world and clean the air with the food I grow. I wish that more people would realize that, and not be swayed so easily by greed, so thank you for changing the direction of this country.

What BC needs is to change the name of its electricity provider. “BC Hydro” is just that, hydro. They have a one track frame of mind and therefore have the blinders on for every other idea. I don’t blame them, but I think it’s time for change. How about “British Columbia Power Corp” or “Renewable Resources BC” at least then they would be able to look at other ideas such as geothermal for instance.

CanGEA has said that BC’s geothermal potential is massive. The drilling companies have been reporting high temperatures underground for years. That would be such an easy transition for everyone already in the oil patch. The geothermal industry would employ drillers, welders, pipe fitters, laborers, operators, pipe liners, electricians etc. Sadly that’s been overlooked and even frowned upon by our provincial government. Another idea, would be to spend the 9+ billion dollars on solar panels/windmills for houses and buildings. They could be set up in remote areas such as reserves and city’s alike. That way they wouldn’t need to draw power from the grid and could even supply the grid, on top of that there would be less risk of large scale power outages in the future as each house could operate individually in the case of natural disaster. Just an idea, I’m a farmer not a scientist, but I do know the scientists and natives are saying site c is not an option.

In conclusion I would like to invite all of you to the annual Paddle for the Peace, last year it was on July 11th and I’m not sure if they have picked a date yet for this year. Just google “Paddle for the Peace.” There are usually a variety of knowledgeable and moving speakers, food, and of course a day of floating down the peace in the sun, on whatever your heart desires. Just bring your canoe, inner tube, paddle board, river boat, whatever you’ve got. We’ve got a nice guest cabin and lots of room for camping down here in the valley. Sorry folks, the cabin is reserved for the Trudeau family unless I hear back from him, lol. As I said though there is tons of room for camping. Thank you all for reading this and caring about our precious valley! Please spread the word and respect the world.

Sincerely, and with much respect.

Colin Meek