Construction continues on the Site C dam project in northeastern B.C., with an estimated cost of more than $10 billion and completion expected in 2024. (B.C. Hydro)

Construction continues on the Site C dam project in northeastern B.C., with an estimated cost of more than $10 billion and completion expected in 2024. (B.C. Hydro)

15th court action dismissed against B.C.’s Site C dam

West Moberly First Nation loses B.C. Supreme Court bid for injunction against B.C. Hydro’s project

Another bid to stop construction of the Site C dam in B.C.’s Peace River region has been rejected, making it the 15th court action to end in a favoured ruling for the controversial hydroelectric project.

On Wednesday, the West Moberly First Nations lost its bid for an injunction, with B.C. Supreme Court Justice Warren Milman ordering a new trial to determine whether the dam infringes on Aboriginal treaty rights, set for sometime in 2023. That’s when the project is expected to be almost done, but the reservoir would not yet filled.

The First Nation, as well as the Prophet River First Nation, had argued the roughly $10-billion project would cause irreparable harm to its territory and said it should be protected under Treaty 8, one of 11 treaties made between the federal government and First Nations.

Meanwhile, BC Hydro argued any injunction would create heavy budget overruns. It says a two-year injunction would cost an extra $660 million and a three-year stoppage would cost $1.1 billion.

READ MORE: Anti-Site C petition approved by Elections BC

READ MORE: Site C dam goes ahead, cost estimate now up to $10.7 billion

Chiefs of both nations said this week they will do “whatever it takes” to protect their ancestors’ land, and will decide whether to appeal the judgment.

“The court may have chosen not to suspend work on the dam, but that doesn’t mean this project will ever be completed,” Prophet River First Nation Chief Kirk Tsakoza said. “As the 200 evacuees at Old Fort could tell you, the unstable north banks of the Peace River may have other plans.”

A slow-moving landslide in the community of Old Fort, south of Fort St. John on the banks of the Peace River, forced dozens of people out of their homes earlier this month. The slide tore up the town’s only road and knocked down power lines, prompting public protests. BC Hydro has since said the slide was not caused by the Site C dam construction.

BC Hydro CEO Chris O’Riley said crews will continue work to safely advance construction, adding the utlity has reached benefit agreements with most First Nations with whom staff have consulted.

Since 2010, there have been 15 court actions attempting to stop the project, including one by the Peace Valley Landowner Association and other Treaty 8 nations.

The utility commission says the dam will provide clean and renewable electricity and produce about 5,100 gigawatt hours of electricity each year — enough energy to power the equivalent of about 450,000 homes per year in B.C.

West Moberly First Nation Chief Roland Wilson said no ruling will transform the dam into being a good project.

“The question to ask is how many billions of dollars will be wasted, and how many human lives will be put at risk by carrying on with this boondoggle?”

With a file from The Canadian Press


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.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

(Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Murder charge laid in February 2020 stabbing death of Smithers man

Michael Egenolf is charged with the second-degree murder of Brodie Cumiskey

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

The Majagaleehl Gali Aks Elementary School in Hazelton is being shut down for a week by the Gitanmaax Band Council following a confirmation of a COVID-19 exposure there on Feb. 26. (Black Press Media File Photo)
COVID-19 exposure notice shuts down Hazelton school

Closure to last for one week and school is to be sanitized

Dave Livesey, right, has been elected as Telkwa councillor defeating Klaus Kraft (middle) and Erik Jacobsen. (Interior News composite photo)
Dave Livesey elected to Telkwa council

Livesey received 60 votes to Klaus Kraft’s 51 and Erik Jacobsen’s 34 in preliminary results

Smithers Local Health Area reported just one new case of COVID-19 from Feb. 14-20. (BC CDC graphic)
Local weekly COVID infections drop to one

The Smithers Local Health Area (Houston to Witset) reported a single case between Feb. 14 and20

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Older rental apartments are prime candidates for renovations, and could result in lost affordable housing stock. (Zoë Ducklow photo)
B.C.’s renoviction overhaul a good start, but won’t preserve affordable stock, lawyer says

And still no protection for people who can’t pay rent due to COVID-19

(Photo by Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)
B.C. WHL teams to hit the ice with Kelowna, Kamloops hub cities

Kelowna, Kamloops centres chosen to host B.C. WHL teams for 24-game regular season

The machines are akin to ATMs and allow drug users at risk of overdose to get hydromorphone pills dispensed to them after their palm has been scanned to identify its unique vein pattern. (CANADIAN PRESS)
Feds dole out $3.5M for ‘vending machines’ to dispense safer opioids in B.C.

The machines are located in four cities across Canada, including Vancouver and Victoria

Kelowna’s lakefront visitor centre is one of 130 around the province. Tourism businesses have been hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions on travel. (Destination B.C.)
Tourism, small business getting COVID-19 help, B.C. minister says

$300M grant program has delivered $50 million so far

The incident happened in downtown Castlegar. Photo: Betsy Kline
Castlegar teen recounts stabbing after stranger breaks into grandmother’s house

The unnamed teen survived a terrifying attack Feb. 21

(Black Press file photo)
Agassiz boy, 11, dies from ‘extensive injuries’: Homicide team

Agassiz RCMP were called out Friday to assist with a child in medical distress

Most Read