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Some Site C transmission line logging work halted pending interim injunction hearing on July 23

The Victoria, Cowichan Valley and Mid-Island chapters along with our Vancouver-based organizer AJ Klein were at the Site C accountability and action summit in Victoria this past January 26-27. One call to action from that summit included, “In response to the civil suits brought by the West Moberly First Nations, the Prophet River First Nation and the Blueberry First Nations, the Province of BC must instruct BC Hydro to stop work on Site C and walk away from the project.”

Three court cases will be heard in the coming months regarding the controversial Site C dam on Treaty 8 territory in northern British Columbia.

The Georgia Straight reports, “Many assumed the $10.7-billion Site C dam was a done deal when Premier John Horgan announced in December that B.C. Hydro would complete the project. [But now] the West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations said in a news release that they’ve managed to secure a ‘major work stoppage’ in advance of presenting legal arguments in court for an interim injunction.”

That article adds, “According to the two First Nations, B.C. Hydro initially declared on February 9 that it intended ‘to continue all previously scheduled work’. After the Indigenous groups’ legal counsel warned that this would lead to an ‘interim, interim injunction’ application, B.C. Hydro changed its position.”

The First Nations’ media release highlights, “On February 16th it sent logging contractors home that were in the process of cutting a stretch of old growth within three critical areas approximately 29 kilometers long by 80 meters wide (the Trappers Lake, Sucker Lake, and Peace Moberly Tract Critical Areas). The clearcutting and road-building were part of a 75-kilometer transmission line required for the project.”

The Globe and Mail further confirms, “BC Hydro says it faces substantial new costs for the Site C dam after agreeing to suspend work on a portion of the construction until the courts can hear an injunction application this summer by a First Nation seeking to block the $10.7-billion project. A lawyer for BC Hydro, Mark Andrews, confirmed in a Feb. 16 letter that the Crown corporation has stopped logging along the western end of the transmission line corridor, to protect areas identified by the West Moberly as culturally and ecologically critical, to allow ‘an orderly resolution of these issues’.”

That article adds, “A hearing on the interim injunction application is expected to begin in July.” The Georgia Straight more specifically reports, “The interim injunction application is expected to be held over 10 days in the summer, likely starting on July 23.”

Furthermore, DeSmog has previously reported, “The West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations filed a civil suit in the Supreme Court of British Columbia [on January 16] claiming the Site C dam, along with two other hydroelectric projects on the Peace River, unjustifiably infringe on their constitutionally protected rights under Treaty 8. The action also requests the courts find the approval of Site C ‘unconstitutional, void, and of no force and effect’. The West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations now estimate damages caused by the completion of Site C could amount to $1 billion.”

It’s not clear when that court case will be heard.

In addition, CBC has reported, “The Blueberry River First Nation argues [in a civil case launched in 2015 that] the cumulative damage [from industrial development, including the Site C dam] is robbing them of their treaty rights to hunt and fish, as moose, marten, beaver, lynx and caribou disappear. The case will be heard in the spring of 2018 and watched carefully by all sides – to see if this First Nation can draw a line that truly protects treaty rights before industrial damage renders them meaningless.”

That legal challenge will be heard by the BC Supreme Court on March 26 and could last three months.

The Council of Canadians first expressed its opposition to the Site C dam on the Peace River in Treaty 8 territory in October 2014.