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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Hundreds celebrate Year of the Rat in Victoria’s Chinatown

Lion dancers and kung fu demonstrations on display

Camosun student shares story of overcoming struggles to inspire others

Provincial Tuition Waiver Program helps former youths in care attend post-secondary institutions

Officials reaching out to those in contact with Canada’s first coronavirus patient

The illness has sickened at least 1,975 people and killed 56 in China

Canada’s basketball community mourns Kobe Bryant after helicopter crash

Bryant was an 18-time NBA all-star who won five championships

‘Devastated’: Fans, celebrities remember Kobe Bryant after his death

Bryant played all of his 20-year career with the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers

Investigation launched after six dead puppies dumped in Richmond hotel parking lot

RAPS reminds people they can always give up puppies they can’t take care of

Canadian Lunar New Year celebrations dampened by coronavirus worries

But Health Minister Patty Hajdu said today that the risk of infection is low

B.C. VIEWS: New coronavirus outbreak an important reminder

Walking the line between cautious and alarmist

Kobe Bryant, daughter killed in California helicopter crash

Bryant entered the NBA draft straight out of high school in 1996

Risk of coronavirus low in B.C. as first case emerges in Toronto: officials

There have been no confirmed cases of the virus in B.C.

Most Read