No, the area to be flooded by the Site C Dam could not feed 1 million people

One of the reasons I started this blog is to advance the idea of evidence-based environmental decision-making. As such I have spent a lot of time dealing with topics like the Site C Dam project where so much ridiculous information has been spread around that it risks overwhelming the decision-making process. While I have written several posts where I have discussed the Site C Dam, tonight I have decided to take on the most ridiculous factoid being communicated by the anti-Site C activists: that the area to be flooded by the Site C Dam could feed 1 million people and that building the Site C Dam risks our food security in BC.

To start, because people always seem to ask, here is my conflict of interest declaration: I don’t have any conflicts of interest with regards to this file. Neither I, nor my employer, has anything to do with the project. I don’t get paid to blog and I generate no income from this blog. I do not blog for, or on behalf of, my employer. These words are mine and mine alone and I blog in my spare time. I have no more to gain or lose, personally or professionally, from the Site C Dam than any other British Columbian.

It has taken a while to track down the basis for the bizarre claim that “the land destroyed by this dam could produce enough food to feed over 1 million people” and that the dam risks our food security. I have also seen it  quoted as:

As world prices for food escalate in response to inevitable pressure, the land in the Peace River Valley is our food security Plan B…. The land to be flooded by Site C is capable of providing a sustainably produced supply of fresh fruits and vegetables to over a million people!”  

Ultimately tracking this factoid to its source we come to a YouTube video by a retired Professional Agrologist named Wendy Holm who says this:

“The Peace River Valley in British Columbia that will be flooded by this dam is capable of producing sufficient nutrition to meet the needs of over 1 million people a year and that is a very conservative figure. In fact, that figure should actually be closer to 2 million.”  

At this point your science antennae should be straight up and your bunk detector should be blaring like a siren. Two million people could be fed by the land to be flooded by the Site C Dam? How could that be? Well the quick answer is that it couldn’t. The claim is ridiculous on its face but that being said let’s delve into it a little bit so you don’t have to simply trust me on the topic.

According to the documentation about Site C, the reservoir is expected to flood around 5500 hectares of agricultural land. To clarify, the area described as being part of the reservoir includes existing river so when the activists say that 12,000 hectares are going to be flooded that includes existing river bottom that is already underwater. To help you visualize a kind researcher has posted a map of the area to be flooded. As you can see, much of the area to be flooded represents islands in the middle of the river that are inaccessible to farming and riverbank that could never be farmed because it is a river bank. The amount of useful farmland to be flooded is much smaller than the 12,000 hectares suggested by the activists and the amount of actual useful farmland appears to be much smaller than the 5500 hectares presented in the documentation. A professional land use planner familiar with the area reports the following:

The reservoir will have surface area of 9,200 hectares, which is only double the size of the existing river…. building the Site C dam will not create a huge new reservoir, but will simply raise the water level — the river will be deeper, but not much wider. As such, the loss of valley bottom land with agricultural capability is closer to 3,800 hectares, of which only 1,600 hectares has farming potential. I would also point out that little of the land being flooded — less than 400 hectares — was actually being cropped; and that mainly for forage, not food crops.

This now gives us a useful range for our discussion. The farmland to be flooded by the Site C Dam is somewhere between 1,600 hectares and 12,000 hectares. So how many people will that amount of land feed? As I have written previously according to food researchers:

The minimum amount of agricultural land necessary for sustainable food security, with a diversified diet similar to those of North America and Western Europe (hence including meat), is 0.5 of a hectare per person.

I’m informed that if you are only counting calories, then a really efficient farm (with year-round growing seasons) can provide the minimum calories (absent any food variety or critical minerals or spoilage or loss to insects etc.) to support 5-6 people per hectare. Unfortunately for the Peace River District they don’t have a year-round growing season. While it is very rich land it has a relatively short growing season (about 4 months). So pressing the absolute limit and giving the activists the benefit of every doubt the 12,000 hectares they claim will be “flooded” could possibly feed 72,000 people with an absolute minimum vegetarian diet of grains and fruit. Using the mean numbers from agricultural science the 3,800 hectares of agricultural land being flooded could potentially feed 7,600 people. Using the numbers I hear the most, the 1,600 hectares of farmable land could feed 1,600 people with a standard western diet after losses for wastage, spoilage and pests. This gives us a potential range of 1,600 – 72,000 people that could theoretically be supported by the land to be flooded. Neither of those numbers are anywhere near one million, let alone two. We are talking being off by orders of magnitude folks?

Now the farming numbers I am providing are not new research nor are they hard to find. As such I am amazed that activists keep repeating this obviously incorrect figure presented by Ms. Holm? Perhaps the tape was edited, perhaps she meant the entire Peace Valley, who knows. All I can say for sure it that there is simply no way on god’s green earth that the area flooded by the Site C Dam could come close to feeding a million people, let alone two?  This claim is so ridiculous on its face that I am not sure why the activists think it will pass muster…except that I keep hearing it again and again: from the highly educated doctors at CAPE to the world class economists at CommonSenseCanadian. Honestly people did it never strike you as being a number that was simply too good to be true?

Now let’s take a short moment to look at the food security claim. According to research prepared for the Peace Regional District, in 2011 there were approximately 4.6 million hectares in British Columbia’s agricultural land reserve (ALR)  and 27% of BC’s ALR was in the Peace Regional District. Of that 4.6 million, in 2011, approximately 2.6 million hectares of land was being farmed in BC with 825,000 of that land being farmed being in the Peace District. According to the official numbers that means the Site C Dam will flood approximately 0.4% of the agricultural land in the Peace District or 0.2% of the agricultural land in BC. Doesn’t this put these food security arguments into perspective? It is ridiculous to claim that the flooding of the land required for Site C will put our food security at risk? We currently have almost 2 million hectares of ALR that we aren’t even bothering to farm (including 426,000 in the Peace District) and the activists claim we will go hungry if we flood around 5,000 hectares of it in the Peace?

Of further note, the easiest way to demonstrate that this particular area of land doesn’t have mystical properties is to note the following. This land is relatively close to the highway which means there are no significant access issues. This particular area of land is close to a farming community people farm all over that region. Yet given these facts most of the area to be flooded has not been farmed in the 100+ years westerners have been farming the Peace. If this land is so incredible why are people farming land near it in all directions but not farming it? Clearly the people of the community don’t see it as particularly special otherwise it would be studded with farms, but it isn’t. Except for a couple exceptions the area to be flooded has sat unfarmed since the valley was first inhabited thousands of years ago. That, in and of itself, should tell you about what the locals think about the area being flooded for farming.

Because I love playing with numbers let’s look at it another way. Using the most overstated numbers from the anti-Site C proponents that the reservoir will “flood” approximately 12,000 hectares of land and using Ms. Holm’s claim that the land to be flooded will feed 2 million people we can do a simple calculation to establish that the existing 825,000 hectares of ALR land in the Peace should be able to feed almost 140 million Canadians. Losing that 12,000 hectares doesn’t sound all that alarming from a food security perspective does it when using the activists own numbers the Peace District (on its own) should be able to feed the entire Canadian population over four times over.

Looking back at what I have written in this post I simply don’t believe that I had to write this all down. The claims were so obviously over the top and yet they have been repeated again and again and again. One retired Agrologist on YouTube made a wildly inflated (or potentially misunderstood) claim and it has become the go-to fact for the people fighting the dam. I am literally embarrassed for the Doctors at CAPE and the Economists at CommonSenseCanadian that they blindly repeated this easily debunkable factoid without it once crossing their minds that the factoid needed confirmation. But that is the problem with discussions in this day and age. People are too quick to believe “facts” that support their positions and to ignore “facts” that don’t. Unfortunately, that is not how evidence-based decision-making is supposed to be done and while I excuse the casual observer for making this mistake I think the activists should do a bit more research before using some obviously wrong numbers for their attempted political gain.

Author’s Note:

I have been contacted by Ms. Holm in the comments who asserts that her statement is correct that:

the Site C dam is capable of PROVIDING THE NUTRITIONAL REQUIREMENTS OF OVER ONE MILLION PEOPLE A YEAR, IN PERPETUITY, is based on BC HYDRO’s own reports filed with the BCUC in the 1980’s. [emphasis hers]

Funny thing is you go to her web site and look up the report she is citing and she claims it says something entirely different:

The study also notes Site C would flood 4,470 acres (1,809 ha, or 42%) of these unique vegetable soils.  Using BC Hydro’s math, and assuming full capacity, that translates to fresh vegetables for over 1 million people; the entire valley, as a “green veggie belt”, is capable of supplying 2.6 million residents with fresh vegetables.

Firstly, BC Hydro did not assume full capacity, Ms. Holm did, and more importantly providing vegetables for 1 million is completely different from “providing the nutritional requirements of 1 million people“.  It seems Ms. Holm needs to make up her mind on what that report said because those two statements are not interchangeable.

I typically hesitate to attribute to bad faith something that can be equally explained by innocent error (or outright incompetence), but I will note that when these two, mutually exclusive statements were presented to Ms. Holm her response was to go straight to conspiracy theory mode. Rather than correcting the record or explaining how these two mutually exclusive statements could be reconciled she attacked me because my employer was involved in a project 50 years ago. A project that has been dead literally longer than most of my readers. I leave it to readers to guess why when shown her errors Ms. Holm chose to take this approach.

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37 Responses to No, the area to be flooded by the Site C Dam could not feed 1 million people

  1. Carsten says:

    Thank you for the facts and debunking this myth. Whoever is disagreeing with this I invite to start farming this land that is mostly not accessible by any other means than by a boat and shovel. The only commercially viable farming was done by John Curtis Market Garden in Taylor BC. The owner retired in 2015 and nobody to my knowledge was interested in keeping the land in production.
    Carsten, In Fort St. John, BC since 1981

    Liked by 1 person

    • ken jeannotte says:

      Mr Chemist in Langley. You don’t have to be a soil scientist to see the stupid errors int his thesis. As a fact it is riddled with errors. You probably has never been there or realizes that the valley is a micro climate for one. You claim a short growing season, which is true to a certain extent up on the “plateaus” of the peace River region. But if you had done some proper research you would have read Wendy’s/Ev’s reports rather than picking one statement out of context and blundering along with that. If you have you would have discovered some actual facts, such as, “short growing season”….well no, because of the long daylight hours as well as the fact the valley runs east west and is a valley, things like corn actually ripen earlier than the corn in Salmon Arm. You are also comparing oranges to apples. You quotes Wendy Holm’s statement of “producing fruit and vegetables”. Then you go on to group beef, grain and fodder production into the equation. Beef and Grain do not have to be produced in the valley as they can and are produced aplenty in the “uplands”, so this is another gross misunderstanding of what Wendy?Ev were saying. I am not up on the acres that you are using but I think you are falling into the Hydro myth and taking at face value Hydro’s claim that the land is only good for fodder production and it’s not even being used for that, without taking into account the “shadow” effect the dam has had for the last 30 yrs and Hydro’s buying up of the land so farmers who don’t own the land don’t do improvements when they have no security of tenure. No. Sorry Mr.Chemist in Langley, You get an F for this paper. Riddled with errors, incomplete information, lack of research and unsupported assumptions. Very poor. By the way, afraid to put your name on this bit of Liberal propaganda?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Malcolm Dutchak says:

        I disagree with your statement, the land used is mainly used for raising livestock with dome grain farming, for many yrs there has been no growing of vegetables except a small plot that started up after the announcement of site c so it could be used for anti site c people and I know of no fruit being grown, I am basing my thoughts on the fact that I have driven thru this area many times over many yrs, plus there is no way the amount of land being used ever feed one million people let alone two million

        Like

    • ken jeannotte says:

      When was the last time you were in the valley? There has been fruit and veg production for the last few years on the Arlene/Ken Boon farm, by a farmer leasing land from the Boons. Melons for god sakes. You can grow anything in that valley. This so called
      “myth” has not been debunked. And BC Hydro’s Myth’s were soundly debunked by Wendy Helm and Eveline Wolterson (both highly respected agrologists Nationally) at the Joint review Panel in Ft St John. I was there and their report (supported by extensive research) was very positively accepted by the panel.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Carsten says:

        Awesome, how any acres and what kind of fruits and yields are we talking about?
        Vegetables are grown all over the Peace for over a hundred years with great success.
        Even grapes have been grown in the Peace but their taste is debatable.
        We have lots of sunshine hours during our short growing season and the selection of special varieties also helps. But sunshine hours is not everything. We still need sufficient soil temperature.
        It is not that the river bottom didn’t get any snow October 01 last year that stayed or Easter this year.

        Liked by 1 person

      • randyhadland says:

        Carsten, You can check out the garden at Bear Flat at https://www.facebook.com/HipPeaceProduce/

        Great success is a relative thing, when I get a cob or two of corn at my place on the upper Peace plateau I consider it a success. These folks get considerably more production, and that is the question being discussed here. Those long summer sunshine hours do greatly increase the heat units that the valley gets since the sunshine is reflected through the valley, and the heat is somewhat trapped there. Works like a really big inefficient solar oven.

        Last winter was pretty amazing even for the Peace country. Any agricultural area suffers occasionally from bad weather, the nature of the beast. All the more reason to hold on to this land in the face of potential climate change impacts like drought, excess moisture and heat waves.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Reasonable Skeptic says:

    Are you aware of the court case between Greenpeace and Resolute?

    http://business.financialpost.com/news/greenpeace-admits-its-attacks-on-forest-products-giant-were-non-verifiable-statements-of-subjective-opinion

    You have chose a rich field to plow it seems. Good luck and keep up the good work.

    Like

  3. randyhadland says:

    I can only assume that being so concerned about sources, and the correctness of data that you contacted Ms. Wendy Holm for her explanation of the numbers she has presented. And yet you don’t present her thoughts on this very important matter. Given that you clearly have no idea about the the wide variation in productive capability of different classes of farmland I think you would have been well advised to do that much.

    You also, having had the opportunity to see Ms. Holms short video, somehow managed to miss her condemnation of BC Hydros evaluation of agricultural potential in the Peace River valley. Worse yet you have pretty much accepted Hydros numbers as presented to you without criticism which seems like an odd thing for someone concerned with evidence backed decision making to do. In this ‘analysis’ that you have done you have thereby thrown the value of the best farmland in northern Canada under the bus. You will forgive me if I don’t accept your protestations of lack of conflict of interest.

    When you have done some research on the different soil classes, the different climate capability classes, their productive capability, the usage made around the world of lands similar to the lands that Hydro has blithely discounted as non-usable, when you have the courage of your convictions and actually contact Ms Holm to discuss the issues you clearly don’t understand and that she as an economist quite likely does, and when you wake up enough to know that Hydro has specifically and intentionally downgraded the value of the land in the Peace valley perhaps you could try this analysis again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Blair says:

      The physical footprint of the reservoir is not under dispute and my conservative assumptions were based on the entire reservoir area being farmable and even then the suggested farming capacity is simply not possible. As I pointed out, a solar insolation calculation demonstrates that her suggestion is impossible, regardless of how miraculous the soils are in that area may be. The laws of physics make it clear that you cannot more calories in output than solar energy that is input into the system. Ms. Holm may be an expert but so are the authors of all those technical references I supply.

      Moreover, if the soils were really that incredible then it would be moot anyways because the 425,000 hectares of Peace River ALR not being farmed would make up the difference.

      I do, also, love your use of the Shill Gambit. Nothing builds up one’s confidence in an argument like saying that the other guy is on the take.

      Like

      • randyhadland says:

        The physical footprint of the reservoir is very much in dispute and you have not tried yet to contact the side that is not Hydro for observations, data, and understandings that are different from what Hydro has fed you. Show us this solar insolation calculation that makes Ms. Holms material impossible. You wouldn’t have gotten it from Hydro would you?

        Show me how that calculation that you are basing your dismissal on is a clear delineation of the laws of physics as it pertains to agriculture in the Peace River Valley.

        Along those same lines, show me that you understand the percentage of the lands currently in ALR in the Peace Region that is class one soil and class one climate capability land. Do these two things without the assistance of Hydro, or with the assistance of Hydro and Ms. Holm.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. ken jeannotte says:

    Anyone reading the Chemist’sfrom Langley.?…Thesis?… I would like to inform you of the credentials of the Agrologists that he is attempting to discredit. Here is a short intro. I ask you who has the more credibility here, these two highly regarded professionals or an anonymous blogger.

    WENDY HOLM;
    Education/Employment
    1974 Public M.Sc.
    Agricultural Economics
    University of British Columbia
    1970 Public B.Sc.
    Business Administration
    Long Island University
    August 1, 2006 Public Canadian Association of Journalists
    January 1, 2002 Public Canadian Farm Writers Federation
    October 4, 2008 Public O.R. Evans Award for Press Editorial (Gold)
    Canadian Farm Writers Federation
    May 23, 2008 Public Distinguished Alumni Award
    Faculty of Land and Food Systems, UBC
    September 15, 2003 Public Frank Jacobs Award for Press Column (Gold)
    Canadian Farm Writers Federation
    August 15, 1992 Public Excellence in Community Programming
    BC Government
    May 27, 2007 Public AMEC 2007 Award for Sustainable Development/ Protection of the Environme
    CIDA
    October 1, 2003 Public O.R. Evans Award for Press Editorial (Bronze)
    Canadian Farm Writers Federation
    September 1, 2004 Public O.R. Evans Award for Press Editorial (Silver)
    Canadian Farm Writers Federation
    October 1, 2006 Public Frank Jacob’s Award for Press Column (Bronze)
    Canadian Farm Writers Federation
    October 1, 2002 Public Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal
    Governor General of Canada
    May 1, 1993 Public Queens Commemorative Medal – 125th Anniversary of Confederation
    Governor General of Canada

    Bio

    Wendy Holm is an award-winning Agrologist, agricultural economist, farm journalist and writer with over 30 years of professional experience in Canada and internationally. BCIA Agrologist of the Year 2000, two-times Queens Medalist (1992, 2002) and recipient of numerous journalism awards (Canadian Farm Writers Federation) for her hard-hitting columns, Wendy has considerable Project Management experience and is an excellent communicator. Her farmer-to-farmer project Enhancing Sustainable Dairy Production Capacity in Cuba just won the prestigious AMEC Award for Sustainable Development and Protection of the Environment at the 2007 International Cooperation Awards. Wendy also teaches a University of British Columbia undergraduate field studies course for Canadian students in Cuba each May. Visit her web-page at http://www.theholmteam.ca for more details and a full CV. She has also been a sessional lecturer at UBC.

    Eveline Wolterson:
    Education/Employment

    1990 Public M.Sc.
    Soil Science
    University of British Columbia
    1973 Public B.Sc.
    Chemistry
    University of British Columbia
    May 15, 1995 Public President EvEco Consultants Ltd.
    November 1, 1979 to January 1, 1990
    Public Research Technician
    Soil Science Department
    University of British Columbia
    January 1, 1990 to August 1, 1992
    Public Research Scientist
    BC Research Corporation
    BC Ministry of Environment
    August 1, 1992 to January 1, 1995
    Public Project Manager
    Pottinger Gaherty Environmental Consultants
    Public Agricultural Institute of Canada
    Public Pulp and Paper Technical Association of Canada
    Public Agricultural Institute of Canada Foundation
    January 1, 2000 Public Canadian Society of Soil Science
    January 1, 1990 Public Pacific Regional Society of Soil Science

    Eveline has as well as an undergraduate degree in Chemistry, a Masters degree in Soil Science.
    She been a Professional Agrologist for over 25 yrs. She has sat on many Provincial/National Government boards. And has run her own environmental consulting business working in many sectors of Agriculture and Industry both National and Internationally.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. wendyholm says:

    The assertion that the land to be flooded by the Site C dam is capable of PROVIDING THE NUTRITIONAL REQUIREMENTS OF OVER ONE MILLION PEOPLE A YEAR, IN PERPETUITY, is based on BC HYDRO’s own reports filed with the BCUC in the 1980’s. You may be a good chemist but you understand little about agricultural productivity… Sorry, but you are dead wrong. Suggest you do your homework before misleading the public. This is a critically important public policy issue.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Blair says:

      So your entire argument, as an agrologist, is that a 1980’s submission, which no one seems to be able to find, claims that this little piece of heaven can grow two orders of magnitude more food than any other piece of land on the planet, using only a four month growing season? I’d love for you to send me a copy of this report and for you to explain how this land is able to accomplish this miraculous growth. Show me in the submission where it says such a thing because I am calling you out on that. 5000 hectares cannot supply 1 million with their nutritional requirements as you well know. The BCUC summary document https://www.sitecproject.com/sites/default/files/19830500%20Report%20and%20Recommendations%20to%20the%20Lieutenant%20Governor%20in%20Council%20-%20BCH.pdf says nothing of the sort by the way

      Moreover, since we aren’t farming 425,000 hectares in the Peace your point is moot. Even if it could produce that much food, the rest of the Peace would more than cover us for food security.

      Like

      • randyhadland says:

        You do have the option of looking at Ms Holms evidence to the Federal Provincial Joint Review Panel for one of the more complete portions of her study on the economic viability of agriculture in the Peace valley. You might also have a look at the BC Hydro Vegetable study, from 1980. I expect BC Hydro has burned any information from that Hearing, but I do have one if you need it. It states, ” there would still remain 1,098 acres of alluvial soils, sufficient to “meet the fresh vegetable requirements of a population of roughly 266,000.”

        You will note that this figure is in acres. Your 5000 hectares, is roughly 12000 acres. From this you can see that Hydros figures in direct extrapolation shows production capability far exceeding one million people, (in fact over three million,) which is what Ms. Holm is saying.

        Since you didn’t respond to my earlier comment about learning a little about agricultural capability given different soil and climate types, let me point out that there are not deep rich alluvial class 1 soils in the 425000 hectares on the plateau above the valley, but rather an average of classes 3 and 4. There is not also a class one climate on the plateau above the valley, but generally a class 3 in the better grain growing areas. Neither of these is capable of the kind of vegetable and fruit growing potential in the valley.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Blair says:

        The study she cites does NOT say it will provide the nutritional needs of a million, it says it could provide the vegetables for a million (as long as you pretend that all the land to be flooded is farmable which is not true since a lot of the land is actually on islands in the river that are virtually inaccessible). These are apples and oranges comparisons. The nutritional needs of 1 million means all the calories they need to survive not just the vegetables they would need for a balanced diet. So, no Ms. Holm is not right, she is not close to right. The area to be flooded cannot come close to meeting the nutritional needs of 1 million and even the research she cites agrees with me not her.

        I would like you to respond, since she has conveniently disappeared after trying to smear my name. Why if this land is so rich has no one bothered to farm most of it in 100 years? The most valuable land in the valley mostly within meters of existing roadways and yet no one has farmed the land. Does this not tell you something? Either every farmer in the valley is a fool of Ms. Holm is not telling you something. I will put my bet on the farmers being intelligent.

        Like

  6. wendyholm says:

    this blog is by Blair King. Mr King works for Parsons. To put his comments in perspective, look who Parsons is: https://watershedsentinel.ca/articles/site-c-nawapa/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Blair says:

      The beauty of conspiracy theorists is everything they see is conspiracies. Yes I work for Parsons, in a division unrelated to water. Moreover Parsons has not been involved in that project since the 1960s. The project has been dead longer than most of my readers have been alive.

      I understand your desire to distract from the the FACT that you have completely misstated the research on food security. Ultimately the question is whether the area can provide the nutrition requirements of 1 million people and the only research you have ever cited on the topic says it is not the case.

      Going back to your conspiracy theory, you do realize that the WAC Bennett Dam would serve the same purpose since it is the primary reservoir for Site C and that having looked into the project (thanks to your writings) it would do the job quite well.

      Like

      • randyhadland says:

        Okay, I at least will accept your denial of special interest. I would like to see then why someone who protests that they are in favour of science based evidence would so keenly disregard the need for objective analysis of the material that you copied from Hydro concerning the agricultural potential in the valley.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Blair says:

        I didn’t copy from BC Hydro as to the capacity, I used peer-reviewed science for that one. I used the BC Hydro info for the area of the reservoir which seems a pretty reasonable approach and frankly differs so little from the other numbers as to be irrelevant.

        Like

  7. Pingback: Dispelling Some Myths About The Site C Dam Project – Site Title

  8. randyhadland says:

    Blair, are you cutting off the ability to reply on this issue?

    The quote that I have from Ms. Holm goes like this, “this is sufficient to produce fresh vegetables to meet the nutritional requirements of 1,082,898 people.” Maybe your defense is missing the point. You would not expect the sufficiency of vegetable production to meet the nutritional needs for cereals or protein. I am pretty sure that her argument all along is that the vegetables requirements are what she has stated can be met, since that is what she says. Show me where I can find the research she cites which disagrees with her.

    I am happy to fill you in on why there has not been a large increase in the production of fruits and vegetables in the Peace River valley, there are a variety of reasons. With cheap oil and cheap labour in California and Mexico combined with supermarket preference for simplified ordering of their produce there has been little need to date for big production in the Peace. Obviously with peak oil, and climate change the demand could change rapidly. A second but also important aspect has been caused by BC Hydro and the respective Provincial Governments here in BC creating and retaining the Site C flood reserve. It would be to say the least imprudent of a farmer or marketer, or bank for that matter to invest in a long term development plan for fruit and vegetable production when Hydro can waltz in and shut it down with expropriation at any time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Blair says:

      No, there is no conspiracy here, WordPress limits the ability to nest comments in their free service, Sorry about that feature but nothing I can do about it today. You are welcome to keep commenting but nesting fails after a certain number of levels and you have to post from the top.

      As for your comment, Ms. Holm has said many things and and the vegetable quote has morphed (in her writing as well) to include all nutritional requirements. This is most easily observed in this very thread where she made that very statement (in all caps yet). Not sure how you can deny it, as readers merely have to scroll upwards to see it. That “nutritional requirements” quote has appeared on at least a dozen anti-Site C websites. Which is why I wrote this blog post.

      Like

      • randyhadland says:

        I am not denying that the total nutritional needs of a million people could be met within the Peace River Valley. As I showed above based on your and Hydros numbers Ms. Holm showed that the acreage that would be flooded is sufficient to feed more than three million in fruits and vegetables. With the kind of excess capacity available I would think it would be an ideal location for livestock production, manure recycling, and intensive grain production.

        And if you are thinking of mentioning Hydros discounting of island agricultural output again you should try to imagine farmers around the world who would not pass up an opportunity to farm them. Far from being inaccessible the islands in the Peace are only a short, as in one minute, boat ride from shore. Hydro has consistently tried to minimize the value of the resource that is the Peace River valley in the hopes that it would make their own project more consumable, and in the hopes that people would be misled, as you have been.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Blair says:

        Actually she was unable to show that. What the data showed was that the area to be flooded could feed 200,000 or so with vegetables.

        Then she extrapolated that number for all that land in the middle of the river that simply cannot be accessed with farming equipment and used those islands to up her numbers to reach 2.8 million. And the reason I discount those islands is because every farmer in the valley has for 100 years. With hundreds of thousands of unfarmed farmland that can be accessed to suggest that this land would ever be used is simply a joke.

        Her numbers are padded well beyond even the most ambitious numbers presented by any other person or organization that has looked at the area.

        Like

  9. randyhadland says:

    Show me where you get your numbers Blair. If you looked at the material that BC Hydro, Ms. Holm, and I have provided, both in reference and here, you would see that your interpretation, where ever you got it from is not correct. Here, I will repeat it.

    You might also have a look at the BC Hydro Vegetable study, from 1980. I expect BC Hydro has burned any information from that Hearing, but I do have one if you need it. It states, ” there would still remain 1,098 acres of alluvial soils, sufficient to “meet the fresh vegetable requirements of a population of roughly 266,000.”

    You will note that this figure is in acres. Your 5000 hectares, is roughly 12000 acres. From this you can see that Hydros figures in direct extrapolation shows production capability far exceeding one million people, (in fact over three million,) which is what Ms. Holm is saying.

    If you are not understanding where your numbers are coming from you should ask.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Blair says:

      I love it when a commentor can’t even follow a simple link, nor are you able to distinguish the difference between providing the vegetables for them and providing their full nutritional needs, which is what she claimed. Try reading what I have written before you comment it will make you look less foolish.

      Like

      • randyhadland says:

        Lol I look foolish according to the guy who can’t respond to the criticism of his one sided blog even to the extent of defending how he can expound on the benefits of evidence based decision making while looking at only Hydros side of the evidence and only part of it at that. If you take material out of context you end up with a misleading argument.

        If you go back through my comments I quite plainly set out how the valley, according to your figures and Hydros figures can provide far more than what Ms. Holm is claiming and actually go a long way towards the total nutritional needs of a million people.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Blair says:

        Thr only Hydro data I used was the size of the reservoir. The remainder of the info comes from other sources. As for the nutritional needs of millions, you really need to learn a bit about the area needed to supply the nutritional needs of a million. The links I provided would help you but you appear unwilling to read them. The area provided is almost two orders of magnitude too small to provide that number of calories. Even if you doubled the area it wouldn’t come close to achieving the goal so you can continue to blather along but until you do your research you just end up looking foolish.

        Like

  10. randyhadland says:

    In your opinion then a letter to the editor of the Times Colonist, which uses the numbers from the Hydro documents that they produced to ineptly justify their minimization of the value of the agricultural capability of the Peace River Valley is reliable evidence to come to the conclusion that the valleys agricultural capability is minimal. Nice work if you can get it. Saints preserve us from bloggers who believe in evidence based decision making.

    I appreciate that you can’t in turn justify your own position even to the extent of arguing the fallacies that I have pointed out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Blair says:

      I can’t tell if you are trying to be obtuse or simply don’t understand the scope of the numbers. Even if we used the most exaggerated number of hectares suggested by the activists you would still be over an order of magnitude too little food produced, even if you used the most fertile land on the planet. Take the ten minutes it would take to actually learn a few things on the topic and then get back to me.

      Like

  11. randyhadland says:

    You might also have a look at the BC Hydro Vegetable study, from 1980. I expect BC Hydro has burned any information from that Hearing, but I do have one if you need it. It states, ” there would still remain 1,098 acres of alluvial soils, sufficient to “meet the fresh vegetable requirements of a population of roughly 266,000.”

    You will note that this figure is in acres. Your 5000 hectares, is roughly 12000 acres. From this you can see that Hydros figures in direct extrapolation shows production capability far exceeding one million people, (in fact over three million,) which is what Ms. Holm is saying.

    Since you didn’t respond to my earlier comment about learning a little about agricultural capability given different soil and climate types, let me point out that there are not deep rich alluvial class 1 soils in the 425000 hectares on the plateau above the valley, but rather an average of classes 3 and 4. There is not also a class one climate on the plateau above the valley, but generally a class 3 in the better grain growing areas. Neither of these is capable of the kind of vegetable and fruit growing potential in the valley.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Blair says:

      They said it was enough to provide fresh vegetables for 260,000 not their total caloric intake which is what she implied and what the activists are saying. Vegetables make up a small proportion of the total calories in a standard diet. If we extrapolated to dietary calories it would be exactly where I said it would be. As for the class of soil, it doesn’t matter with respect to this question because no soil in the world could achieve what she implied and what the activist have been claiming. You keep ignoring the entire point of this post. The area to be flooded cannot achieve what she said it could….. not even close.

      Like

  12. randyhadland says:

    You are the one who brought up the idea that the land not in the valley could provide the food requirements of the people, and you were wrong about that since the class of soil and the climate class outside of the valley cannot produce veggies and fruit in a commercial way. But we can let that ride. Ms. Holm, agrologist, economist, former president of the BC Institute of Agrologists, implied total calorie intake did she? I think it is more a case that when you ‘ultimately track this factoid to its source’ you came to a youtube video… which given that Ms Holm’s research was based on vegetables and fruit may have been out of context. And you knew this because your earlier link said the following. “As world prices for food escalate in response to inevitable pressure, the land in the Peace River Valley is our food security Plan B…. The land to be flooded by Site C is capable of providing a sustainably produced supply of fresh fruits and vegetables to over a million people!”

    I retract my earlier statement. I no longer believe that you do not have a conflict of interest.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Blair says:

      Did you not see her link and her comment where she repeated the mistake? Her original video said one thing but here comments since that video was made clearly indicates that she has jumped the shark. It is right here in this discussion thread?

      As for your comment what conflict do you think I have? I’d be interested in you examining it to explain to me in what conceivable way am I in conflict of interest? It would be rather amusing to see someone try to put it in words so I have something real to refute instead of these unsupported and unsupportable nebulous claims.

      Like

  13. randyhadland says:

    You saw what you consider to be a mistake on Ms. Holm’s part, something that is so obviously out of the context of her study, and you jumped on that. Her analysis dealt with vegetables and fruit. You know that and now that your supporting argument has no validity you are latching on to a possible mistake like it means something.

    My impression is that you are in conflict of interest because anyone who is educated, anyone who proclaims himself in favour of evidence based decision making, would look at all the evidence available, not just that from BC Hydro. Either that or I have to assume a serious level of insincerity in your writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Blair says:

      No, I took her at her words, which were wrong and demonstrably so. She then repeated that error in this very thread above. It does not take a lot of work to read this very thread and see her repeat the error. It takes a willing blindness to pretend that the words are not there.

      As for your charge of conflict of interest, I honestly can’t tell if you are really this uninformed. You asserted that I have a conflict of interest which is a very serious charge. To discover that you have no clue what it means really causes me to ponder just what knowledge you have to conduct this discussion. You keep making these obvious errors? Until you can demonstrate that you have the slightest clue I think you will need to re-consider posting here.

      Like

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