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COMMENTARY · 8th June 2013
Merv Ritchie
It wasn’t so long ago when the BC Socreds were promoting “Super Natural BC”. It was a reality, BC was/is super and it is natural. The BC government was promoting BC to tourists from all across North America, in fact the world. Today we have a Province in decay where the only real slogan for tourists is “Super Shitty BC”. One just has to drive down any highway and stop at any rest area, go to any government wilderness campground or visit a zoo to see the truth behind this sad tale.

Ever since Grace McCarthy left politics (the day the Zalm took over) BC has degenerated into a slum.

All across BC thousands of streams and rivers traversing mountains and valleys provide the potential for a regeneration of BC’s future. We see highway rest stops perched in the middle of nowhere with a bare wooden outhouse when, without fail, these could be located at a stream or river with a small hydro electric plant generating power for lighting and hot water.

The power potential of a tiny creek (one foot wide) with only 200 feet of head pressure (elevation change) could produce enough power to provide the lighting and unlimited hot water so tourists and residents could enjoy the area in comfort. It is absurd that we do not have fully functioning flush toilets and free showers at these rest stops for everyone.

And a rest stop next to a creek (where people want to stop and enjoy the sounds of a babbling brook) is simply a natural choice! We could even include salmon hatcheries and enhancement programs at these sites!

And then we have the major power producing rivers.

The west coast is sarcastically called the wet coast for a reason. It always rains.

The latest proposal of the BC government for power production comes from WAC Bennett who was buried many many years ago. It seems as though the people in political power cannot come up with an original thought. Site C is as dead an idea as he is.

The entire coast of BC from Indian Arm to Prince Rupert is ripe for electrical power potential; clean, green, natural, renewable, sustainable (chose your own buzz word) electricity.

All high mountain rivers; huge elevation drops, and massive quantities of water. The only difficulty is the lack of a grid to carry the power out of these regions.

So rather than spending billions of dollars flooding more farmland in the Peace River Valley, maybe we should consider spending billions of dollars providing a new infrastructure for the new electrical power demands of the future?

WAC Bennett saw into the future and he took advantage of something no one else foresaw. To attempt to continue down the same path 60 years later is to reveal an incredible ignorance.

From the substation in Terrace, the one now preparing to feed the new Northwest Transmission grid, BC Hydro could run an entirely new grid south, through Kemano, past Bella Coola down Knight Inlet to Campbell River. The grid south down the Island to Victoria is not a 500 KV grid but could be upgraded. A quick example of a potential route is attached as a picture and as an attachment for a better close-up examination for those interested. A different route is likely easily identified and further a route directly into Vancouver might be preferable.

A secondary aspect of this may be the potential of creating a new highway infrastructure along this route. It is called looking into the future, not the past. It is feasible with imagination and the technology available today. When WAC Bennett envisioned the new BC Hydro Grid and highway system people critiqued him harshly as well.

Should this new grid be considered it would be the infrastructure required for numerous new hydro electric facilities which could feed the grid from the various large rivers located down the various valleys of the Wet West Coast of BC.

Southeast Alaska has enormous potential as well. If BC would consider this potential SE Alaska might even buck up to assist in the construction. They have identified the equivalent of ten full sized Nuclear power plants worth of clean green renewable electricity they wish to get to market.

WAC Bennett dreamed of a similar arrangement. It was finalized in what was called the Columbia River Treaty. The Americans helped fund and build the power system and got the power for 30 years. Then BC owned everything “Lock, Stock and Barrel” - that was until Gordon Campbell sold off the management of BC Hydro to a group of shysters.

If BC Hydro decided, in concert with the USA (California), to provide an underwater cable across Juan de Fuca Strait and a new triple 500 KV grid was built down the Island, then the potential for the power coming from the North could become a reality.

SE Alaska could ‘wheel’ their power through BC’s new grid and the First Nations Communities could design new power plants to feed into the same grid.

Super Natural BC. It was a great concept when BC had real thinkers.

Even if we just constructed decent, clean, respectable rest stops along the highways, that would be an improvement over super shitty BC.

From July 2011 - Some Background on Electricity
Open the attachment, called compilation, below for closer examination
Open the attachment, called compilation, below for closer examination
This is the left side of the attached example with Google Earth Topographical views of our potential new grid example - Open the attachment below for closer examination
This is the left side of the attached example with Google Earth Topographical views of our potential new grid example - Open the attachment below for closer examination
This is the right side of the attached example - From BC Hydro, their current grid layout with our area of examination - Open the attachment below for closer inspection of the route
This is the right side of the attached example - From BC Hydro, their current grid layout with our area of examination - Open the attachment below for closer inspection of the route
This same image is attached below in a larger size for better viewing - It is a cost and distance comparison with Site C and the NTL in regards to an entirely new grid.
This same image is attached below in a larger size for better viewing - It is a cost and distance comparison with Site C and the NTL in regards to an entirely new grid.
Comment by CC on 27th September 2013
Merv - that was great. Good on you. What we need is to get back to using nature for what it can do for us AS we take care of it back. Use only what we need, find multiple ways to encourage growth and to keep it alive, get back to the old ways while incorporating new ways - live in harmony with what we have without depleting and destroying. BC has such potential and everyone's hands are tied, BC people are taxed to death, services aren't updated/offered (are being more and more taken away) in the more remote areas. The powers that be have the power and kill any "outside the box" thinking. Example: Kitimat has huge potential to be a thriving resort/nature sports site but the region is dominated by the controlling powers. Huge, huge potential there that could be used and expanded upon but the creative thinkers' hands are tied. People become defeated, spirits broken, exhaused and eventually stop caring and they start thinking, "I'll just be grateful I have a home, some money, a car." We can all rise up and start a change but we need to strengthen and encourage each other.
I hear you Merv and I get it.
Thanks for pointing that out
Comment by Merv Ritchie on 10th June 2013
One could consider it a news release from a news organization, but rather it was meant as a commentary. It was from yours truly though, so at least that part was correct.

We added a link at the end of the writing to provide context as to my personal background in the Hydroelectric field.

Thanks again - we'll change it from 'News Release' now, to 'Commentary'.
News Release?
Comment by Jeff Rueger on 10th June 2013
So how is this a News Release? From whom? More like an opinion piece and should be labelled as such.
Funny? How about this?
Comment by Helmut Giesbrecht on 10th June 2013
Peace River was built by BC Hydro. Now BC Hydro does not build ROR's (Run Of River's) because the government decided to buy from IPP's (Independent Power Producers) at a price three times the market price. Alcan was built when its Smelter was not connected to the grid and Kemano was not either. When they got connected to the grid they sold surplus power at lower rates to BC Hydro which sold it through PowerEx (the Government owned arm of BC Hydro that sold power for export) at a profit which went to the BC Hydro users and contributed to lower rates. Now they RTA (Rio Tinto Alcan) can sell Kemano power through their own export company. This from the peoples resource.

BC Rail, which operated at a profit for the Province was sold to private interests for a pittance after the people were promised that it would not be privatized.

Assets which were owned by the government for the benefit of citizens of the province as WAC Bennett envisioned are now in private hands. That is hardly funny.
ok, thats funny
Comment by Steve Smyth on 10th June 2013
"It would be wise for robin to get on this because the next time it happens "

Mr "shockedDraconianOutrage" has disappeared until the next election.
What youre calling for in this article require Men (or Women) with vision. Like the people who built the original Peace dam, and Alcan and Kitimat and BC Rail. Those people aren't welcome in BC anymore, they are shouted down by poverty pimps, enablers, NIMBY's and BANANAS
Yes merv
Comment by Terry on 9th June 2013
You are confusing political expediency with expediency and political planning with logical planning .
Just imagine driving for 6 or 7 hrs to get to Campbell River
Comment by Merv Ritchie on 9th June 2013
Yes, should BC get its collective ass together, this could be a reality. Look around the globe at the various new highway projects, miles long over passes and tunnels. And Chrissy Crunch wants to spend ten billion on Site C?

Ten Billion? That is $10,000 million. That should cover the cost of the grid and highway south through the mountains and valleys of the coast.

Man is there no way to expose idiots? Or am I the fool?
Everything for 604 crumbs for the north
Comment by Terry on 9th June 2013
The talk now that " they have a new port Mann bridge " how many billions for that ? Is a new bridge or tunnel to replace the pattello bridge from surrey to new west . How many billions will that cost us all ? And we can't even get an up grade to the cranberry connector . The only back door in and out when the highway washes out or the Oliver area slides again trapping everyone west of kitwanga . All we need is a few crumbs from the 604 feeding frenzy to increase our security . Few in the area know what it's like to be cut off for an extended time period . Us old timers know what it is like and it's not nice . It is shameful the this has not been addressed . It would be wise for robin to get on this because the next time it happens the anger will be heard all the way to Victoria and the accumulated costs will be in the hundreds of millions of dollars .
And the state of our highways is atrocious
Comment by Merv Ritchie on 9th June 2013
A recent drive to Prince George, then south to Cache Creek, east to Kamloops and north again on highway 5 back to PG was shocking to say the least.

Although some highway work is underway, how the TransCanada was allowed to be such a state of disrepair is astounding. From the turnoff to Lillooet driving south to Cache Creek on 97, the road was a veritable massage as the vehicle bounced and shook over every crack and frost heave. Same thing east of Kamloops to Chase and beyond on the number 1.

The potholes were like driving on an obstacle course. People are not leaving BC to get jobs, they are leaving because the Province has gone to hell. The Liberals have been in power since 2001, a dozen years of destitution and neglect.

Up here in Terrace we are living in a bit of an isolation chamber. Touring BC is like driving through a waste land. There has been no vision for this Province since WAC. The politicians, including his own son, have been living off of his dream ever since he made that last dream for BC a reality.