Dam Business

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

"If there's any untoward damage to the environment, we [Fortis] will not go forward with the project."
Fortis Inc. CEO, H. Stanely Marshall
"On the Go," CBC, August 3, 2000

Fortis Inc. is the majority owner of Belize Electricity Limited (BEL). As such, it wants to build a dam on the Macal River, in the southern region of Belize. The dam would flood important areas of the Macal River Valley, threatening the jaguar, Scarlet Macaw and the tapir - three endangered species that depend on this ecologically rich region.

Still, contrary to the quote above, the company - based in St. John's Newfoundland - isn't showing signs of slowing down with its development plans. This in spite of growing scientific evidence that indicates major long-lasting impacts on the area's ecosystems and species. Eighteen of the world's leading forest experts and ecologists have reached this conclusion. So have David Suzuki and other scientists, who have spent years studying the Macal River Valley.

The plan to build this dam could even raise energy rates in a country that is still struggling to stand on its own feet, having been colonized by Britain until 1981.

Community-development groups and activists in Newfoundland and Belize rekindled a fifteen-year-old linkage when Belizeans came to St. John's to protest the dam in May. The groups had first came together in the eighties because of their common experience as former British colonies. Now they have something else in common - Fortis, Inc.

There is a third link between May's visitors and hosts. The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) funded the initial development plans for the proposed dam through the Belize government, which is a minority owner of that country's only electrical utility. Newfoundlanders who have a long-standing connection with people in Belize want to know why the company and CIDA refuse to make their plans for environmental studies public.

Canadian money is going into this project, without any requirement that the dam comply to environmental guidelines for similar projects in this country.

Further Reading

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.