Powerhouse and water intakes under construction at Site C dam project in northeast B.C., spring 2019. (B.C. Hydro)

B.C. Indigenous group vows to battle Site C dam in court again

B.C. Hydro project preparing to divert Peace River next summer

He has lost at every level of Canada’s court system, but the West Moberly First Nations chief is vowing to go to court again in an effort to stop completion of the Site C dam in northeastern B.C.

A lawyer for Chief Roland Willson issued a statement Tuesday saying discussions with the B.C. government to avoid the latest legal action against the dam have ended, and a trial is expected to begin in March 2022 to determine if West Moberly’s treaty rights have been infringed by construction of the third dam on the Peace River near Fort St. John.

Willson and his lawyer Tim Thielmann quoted Premier John Horgan’s statements while B.C. opposition leader in support of traditional hunting and fishing rights under Treaty 8, the 1899 treaty in which the region’s first nations ceded the territory to the Crown.

“We can’t disclose anything confidential from the discussions with B.C., but I can assure you that there are dark days ahead for Site C,” Willson said, predicting further construction delays.

B.C. Hydro postponed the diversion of the river for construction of the earth-fill dam until the summer of 2020, but said the delay wouldn’t mean missing the 2024 target for the dam to begin producing power. That delay and other unforeseen construction issues prompted the provincially owned utility to increase its cost estimate from $8.5 billion to $10.7 billion.

RELATED: 15th court action dismissed against Site C dam

RELATED: NDP proceeds with Site C dam, cost up to $10.7B

Horgan and Energy Minister Michelle Mungall inherited the project from former premier Christy Clark, who took an active role in pushing for its completion after her predecessor Gordon Campbell made the decision to proceed. The Horgan government reluctantly approved carrying on with Site C after forming a minority government in 2017.

The project has thousands of workers on site this summer, completing river diversion tunnels and building the powerhouse, intakes and other key components. As the third dam, Site C reuses stored water from the Peace Canyon and W.A.C. Bennett dams upstream, producing enough power for 450,000 homes with a much smaller reservoir size.

West Moberly and the Prophet River First Nation have carried on a long legal battle against Site C, which will flood more than 80 km of valley bottom land, widening and deepening the river. Their challenge of provincial permits was rejected by the B.C. Supreme Court in 2016, and later by the Federal Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court of Canada declined to hear the last appeals of that case in 2017.

In 2006, Campbell’s government and B.C. Hydro negotiated compensation of $14 million with ongoing support payments for the communities of Kwadacha and Tse Keh Dene, established at new sites on Williston Reservoir after original reserves were flooded by the original W.A.C. Bennett dam in 1967.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Ucluelet reconsiders rejected pot shop

Cannabis Open House coming up in November

2019 FEDERAL ELECTION: Courtenay-Alberni candidates address other issues of importance

Other than the topics already discussed, what do you feel is the most important issue in your constituency?

Courtenay-Alberni candidates trade barbs at Alberni all candidates meeting

Crime, climate change, seniors all on slate of questions

B.C.’s rural paramedic program expands, with home support

Advanced care ambulance staff added for six communities

Heiltsuk Nation open first Big House in 120 years in northern B.C.

Opening means the community now has an appropriate space for spiritual and ceremonial events

Singh says NDP would form coalition with the Liberals to stop Tories

Singh was in a Liberal-held riding Sunday afternoon in Surrey where he was pressed about his post-election intentions

‘My heart goes out to the mother’: B.C. dad reacts to stabbing death of Ontario boy

Carson Crimeni, who was also 14, was bullied relentlessly, his dad says

BC Ferries filling up fast with post-Thanksgiving weekend travellers

Monday anticipated to be busiest day of the weekend

The one with the ‘Friends’ photoshoot: Kelowna group recreates TV show intro

A friend’s departure prompted them to create something that really says, “I’ll be there for you”

Canadian Snowbirds plane crashes before air show in Atlanta

Pilot lands safely after ejecting from jet

Share crash data, private insurers tell David Eby, ICBC

B.C. monopoly makes drivers retrieve their own records

B.C. VIEWS: Wolf kill, not backcountry bans, saving caribou

B.C.’s largest herds turn the corner from extinction

Most Read