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December 9, 2013
Industrial activity is fracturing Northeastern B.C. on a scale unparalleled in Canada, according to a report by the David Suzuki Foundation, released as public input into the Site C Dam Joint Review Panel's environmental assessment begins on December 9. The report gives voice to concerns raised by First Nations and farming communities about the alarming pace of industrial development in the Peace Region.
Dane-zaa elder May Apsassin refers to the region as "broken country" for communities and the wildlife they rely on, including threatened species such as caribou and grizzly, a description confirmed by satellite images released today. Sixty seven per cent of the Peace Region has been disturbed by human land use, including forestry, mining, oil and gas pipelines, fracking, and earlier large-scale hydro electric development.
In the report, heritage farmers Ken and Arlene Boon voice their concerns: "In this country, we are just getting lambasted from every direction. We farm in the Peace Valley, which we can't emphasize enough is a unique place. This is the valley they want to flood for Site C — the only low elevation valley. Where will the wildlife go? Where will the farmers go?"
The study shows farmland and forest are under intense pressure from oil and gas pipelines, logging, mines, fracking and a proposed third large dam on the Peace River — Site C. If built, the Site C Dam would flood more than 3,400 hectares of prime farmland, the biggest loss of B.C. farmland since the inception of the Agricultural Land Reserve.
"Today's study confirms our worst fears that our lands and waters are being devastated by rampant industrial development," said Chief Roland Willson of West Moberly First Nation. "Building the Site C Dam will be like driving the last nail in the coffin if it is allowed to proceed," he added.
The Site C dam is in the midst of a joint provincial/federal environmental review process. A David Suzuki Foundation representative will present before the Joint Review Panel on Site C with the latest science showing the Peace Valley and surrounding watersheds have already been significantly affected by human land use, including earlier large-scale hydro development. Studies show the cumulative industrial footprint in the region is massive and earlier development must be considered in the decision on whether to build the Site C Dam.
Theresa Beer, Communications
O: 604-732-4228, Ext. 1239
Faisal Moola, Director, Ontario and Northern Canada
British Columbia's Peace Region is a conservation priority for the protection of core wildlife habitat and animal-movement corridors for large mammals such as wolves, grizzlies and endangered populations of woodland caribou. It is also the traditional home of the Dane-zaa Treaty 8 First Nations and contains prime crop and rangelands that have sustained farming families for generations.
The cumulative industrial footprint in the Peace Region is massive
When you include a 500-metre buffer to create an ecological footprint, almost 67 per cent of the Peace Region has been disturbed by human land use.
The region has 16,267 oil and gas well sites and 8,517 petroleum and natural gas facilities. There are 3,868 square kilometres of coal tenures, 243 square kilometres of mineral tenures, and four existing and four proposed coal mines. There are thousands of existing and planned logging cut-blocks, two large-scale hydroelectric dams, the proposed Site C Dam and 247 potential run-of-river hydropower sites. There are 45,293 kilometres of roads and 1,163 kilometres of transmission lines.
Industrial development is encroaching on endangered species habitat
Three of 10 caribou herd ranges have been cut by more than 50 per cent because of industrial activities. Although the government recently announced its intention to protect 400,000 hectares of high-elevation winter caribou habitat under its Northern Caribou Recovery Plan, critical low-elevation summer habitat remains at risk.
Very little wildlife habitat is protected in parks and wildlife reserves
Only 4.2 per cent of the region is protected in parks and protected areas.
1. Protect the Peace Valley by not proceeding with the Site C Dam.
2. Ensure that existing and future industrial activities in the Peace Region are better managed through cumulative-impacts land-use planning that addresses the growing human footprint of logging, mining, oil and gas development, hydro and other activities.
3. Expand recovery efforts for threatened species such as woodland caribou through protection and restoration of wildlife habitat in low-elevation areas threatened by industrial activities.
4. Expand the existing network of protected areas in the region, including the establishment of K'ih tsaa?dze Tribal Park. K'ih tsaa?dze (meaning "old spruce" in the Dane-zaa language) lies within the traditional lands of the Doig River First Nation and has been used for generations by the community as an important place for hunting, camping, fishing and spiritual renewal.
VANCOUVER - Although Canadians continue to expect governments to take the lead on climate change, they appear to be losing confidence in their leaders, according to a survey released today by the Environics Institute for Survey Research in partnership with the David Suzuki Foundation.
It found that a majority of Canadians accept the reality of climate change due to human activity, and that the number who believe in the conclusiveness of the science continues to grow. Most Canadians believe something can be done to address climate change, including shifting energy requirements from fossil fuels to cleaner renewable forms of energy.
These are some of the key findings of the survey, released as government representatives from around the world gather in Warsaw, Poland, for the United Nations climate change summit.
"As in past surveys, belief in the scientific reality of climate change is evident across the country, but most widespread among Canadians with a post-secondary degree, those under 60 years of age and those who generally support the federal opposition parties," said Keith Neuman, executive director of the Environics Institute. "At the same time, this belief in the science is also held by four in 10 Conservative party supporters, almost twice the number who question that climate change is really taking place."
Over the past six years, since Environics began tracking on climate issues and attitudes, Canadians have increasingly looked to governments to implement new standards and regulations. Over the past 12 months, however, the public's confidence in government as the lead actor in addressing climate change has declined sharply (to 53 per cent, down six points) and is now back to where it stood in June 2011.
"Canadians have for decades looked to their governments for leadership on addressing climate change and other environmental problems. This latest survey shows a noticeable drop in the public's confidence in governments' capacity to play this role, and this may well be because citizens haven't seen any evidence of leadership, especially at the federal level," Neuman said.
"The results underscore the need for the Canadian government to change its past practices and become a constructive global citizen at the UN climate change summit in Warsaw," said Ian Bruce, science and policy manager at the David Suzuki Foundation. "Canada's job in Warsaw should be to collaborate with countries around the world to come up with an effective and binding international agreement to reduce global warming emissions."
The survey examined public opinion on climate change as part of the Focus Canada public opinion research program. It is based on telephone interviews conducted with 2,003 Canadians between October 1 and 17, 2013. A sample of this size drawn from the population produces results accurate to within plus or minus 2.2 percentage points in 19 out of 20 samples.
For further information:
Alvin Singh, Communications Manager
David Suzuki Foundation
(604) 740-4318; firstname.lastname@example.org
Keith Neuman, Ph.D., Executive Director
Environics Institute for Survey Research
416-969-2457 or 416-272-6628 Keith.email@example.com
David Suzuki touring Atlantic Canada to raise awareness of climate change impacts and energy issues in the region
HALIFAX/ST. JOHN'S/MONCTON/CHARLOTTETOWN — Dr. David Suzuki, co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation and Host of CBC's The Nature of Things, will be touring Atlantic Canada to discuss the impacts of climate change and energy issues in the region. Each province will host a special evening that will include a movie premiere of the documentary "Climate Change in Atlantic Canada", produced and directed by Dr. Ian Mauro of Mount Allison University, as well as a panel discussion with David Suzuki and local representatives allowing resident to share their questions and concerns regarding these important local issues.
"With the release of the latest report from the IPCC on climate change, the international scientific community is more confident than ever that burning fossil fuels is one of the main causes of climate change. This is already impacting both human and natural systems, especially in coastal areas. In Atlantic Canada, this translates into increasing ocean temperatures and extreme weather events, causing surging tides, flooding and widespread coastal erosion," said Dr. David Suzuki.
The tour also provides citizens in the region with a unique opportunity to converse directly with David Suzuki, who was recently ranked the most admired Canadian in a survey conducted by the Globe and Mail, specifically by residents in Eastern Canada.
In the following short video, Dr. David Suzuki himself invites residents in the Atlantic region to participate in a dialogue on climate change and energy issues, while highlighting the urgency to take action now to prevent the increasing impacts of climate change in the region.
For more information on the events, please visit: http://www.davidsuzuki.org/atlantictour
For more information about the Climate Change in Atlantic Canada film, please visit:
For interviews please contact:
David Suzuki Foundation: Manon Dubois, 514-679-0821
Ecology Action Center: Ryan O'Quinn, 902-719-5228
New Brunswick Environmental Network Sabine Dietz, 506-536-1260
PEI Watershed Alliance Dave Atkinson, 902-620-5117
Newfoundland Environmental Network Katie Temple, 709-639-4293
VANCOUVER - Taseko Mines Ltd.'s proposed New Prosperity gold-copper mine should be rejected outright by the federal government, the David Suzuki Foundation says. A Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency report released Thursday found numerous problems with project.
The New Prosperity Gold-Copper project is merely a modification of a similar proposal that Canada's environment minister rejected in 2010. Then-Environment Minister Jim Prentice told Taskeo Mines the federal government could not accept the project as proposed and suggested the company go back to the drawing board and come up with a proposal that addressed the issues raised by the first review. However, the findings of the latest report are essentially the same as those reached by the first panel.
"This is the second time this project has been subject to such close scrutiny by a phalanx of experts," says David Suzuki Foundation senior science and policy adviser John Werring. "Both review panels have concluded the project would have a range of significant environmental and social impacts, especially regarding impacts to First Nations."
Adverse effects of the project identified by both review panels include impacts on aboriginal rights and uses of the area, water quality, fish and fish habitat and endangered grizzly bears.
"Millions of taxpayers' dollars and thousands of hours of valuable time have been devoted to these environmental reviews by professionals and laypersons alike only to have this panel reach the same conclusions as the first," Werring says. "Given the consistency of the findings between the two reports, there is no logical reason for the federal government to allow this project to proceed."
Final rejection of this project would provide a clear message to industry about what responsible resource development means. It does not mean pushing forward with an ill-conceived project, against the advice of experts and in a manner that fails to respect the environment.
For more information, contact:
John Werring, Senior Science and Policy Adviser, David Suzuki Foundation
Office: (604) 732 — 4228 ext. 1245;
Cell: (604) 306-0517