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Construction of Site C dam now underway

Site C dam

The Journal of Commerce reports, “Construction crews are now more than two months into construction for the Site C dam megaproject. Workers are continuing site preparation activities, including clearing work, building access roads and starting construction of a 1,600-person worker accommodation camp.”

The Council of Canadians has been opposing the Site C dam since March 2010.

Site C is a 60-metre high, 1,050-metre-long earth-filled dam and hydroelectric generation station being built on the Peace River between the communities of Hudson’s Hope and Taylor in northeastern British Columbia. It will create an 83-kilometre-long reservoir and flood about 5,550 hectares of agricultural land southwest of Fort St. John. It will also submerge 78 First Nations heritage sites, including burial grounds and places of cultural and spiritual significance.

A spokesperson for BC Hydro admits the power from the dam is necessary given expectations for major growth in the liquefied natural gas, mining and forestry sectors in the province as well as population growth. Much of the power will go to environmentally destructive projects like fracking in British Columbia, which in turn is used to fuel the extraction of bitumen from the tar sands.

It has been estimated that the Site C dam could emit 150,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year, the equivalent of adding 27,000 cars on the road.

After the British Columbia government approved the controversial dam in December 2014, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow stated, “We are deeply disappointed by the B.C. government’s short-sighted decision. We stand in solidarity with Treaty 8 First Nations whose treaty rights will be violated with this project. But this affects everyone in the region – farmers, residents, and scientists alike.”

Various legal challenges were launched by Treaty 8 nations against the dam. But on August 29, the Globe and Mail reported, “Two courts have rejected attempts by a pair of British Columbia First Nations [the West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations] to halt the construction of the Site C hydroelectric dam.”

That article specifies, “A B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled [on August 28] against issuing a stop-work order for the first phase of construction of the [Site C dam] on the Peace River… The First Nations went to B.C. Supreme Court seeking a stop-work order on Site C, arguing they weren’t consulted properly on permits approved by the province for the first phase of construction. …The Federal Court also dismissed the First Nations’ challenge of the environmental approval process… [Federal Court Judge Michael Manson] said in a written decision that the review was ‘not the appropriate course of action’ to determine whether treaty rights have been infringed.”

In terms of ongoing legal action against the dam, the West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations will be in court in November for a judicial review of Site C permits.

Failing an injunction, construction on the dam is expected to be completed in 2024.

Photo: BC Hydro.