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.

BC legislature

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

Just Posted

North Saanich floats tougher policies for buoys and moorings near Tsehum Harbour

Municipality also considers additional collaboration with Sidney and other communities

Westin Bear Mountain invests $2 million to renovate newly-named spa

‘Amatista Spa’ has yet to announce official opening date

Dozens brave cold for third annual Polar Plunge for Special Olympics

Organizers have raised more than $40,000 as of Feb. 16

HarbourCats team up with Bastion Books to bring back Harvey’s Reading Club

HarbourCats and Bastions Books offer students free game tickets in an effort to promote child literacy

Central Saanich newspaper carrier gets letter of thanks, chocolates from her community for note

Ava Verscheure started her first very job by introducing herself to residents along newspaper route

VIDEO: Minister reports ‘modest progress’ after blockade talks with First Nation

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say Coastal GasLink does not have authority to go through their lands

PHOTOS: Top 10 memories of the 2010 Olympics

Black Press Media’s Jenna Hauck, shares some of her most memorable images of 2010 Winter Games

#FoxForFiver: Support grows in B.C. to put Terry Fox on new $5 bill

Terry Fox’ Marathon of Hope raised money for cancer research

Trudeau confers with cabinet ministers as rail blockades continue

The Trudeau government has been criticized for not doing more to end the blockades

Canadian nurses’ unions warn national standards for coronavirus protection too low

President says safety protocols nationwide are inadequate compared to those in Ontario and other countries

Murder of sex worker exposes Canada’s hypocrisy on prostitution: advocate

A 2014 law made purchasing sex or benefiting from the selling of sex illegal

Wet’suwet’en return to northern B.C. forest road pipeline workers move through: First Nation

Opponents of a pipeline who support the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have reoccupied camps at centre of arrests

Over a dozen birds found mysteriously dead on rural B.C road

Ministry of Agriculture notified of the strange occurrence on No. 4 Road in Abbotsford

Most Read