Skip to content

Treaty 8 land defenders and allies face arrest if Site C injunction granted

Site C

BC Hydro is seeking to secure an injunction on Feb. 22 against land defenders opposing the Site C dam.

Site C is a proposed 60-metre high, 1,050-metre-long earth-filled dam and hydroelectric generation station on the Peace River between the communities of Hudson’s Hope and Taylor on Treaty 8 territory in northeastern British Columbia. It would create an 83-kilometre-long reservoir and flood about 5,550 hectares of agricultural land southwest of Fort St. John. It would also submerge 78 First Nations heritage sites, including burial grounds and places of cultural and spiritual significance. Logging and land clearing for the dam began this summer, without consent from Treaty 8, but major construction on the dam is not yet underway.

Treaty 8 land defenders and allies set up a camp near the construction site on New Year’s Eve.

The Globe and Mail now reports, “BC Hydro [will be in] court Monday seeking an injunction to have the protest camp removed. Documents filed in that case delve into financial issues surrounding the project, with BC Hydro arguing that a one-year delay will cost about $420-million. [But] affidavits filed by expert witnesses for the protesters, however, claim a one-year delay will actually save taxpayers $267-million because the forecast power demands have fallen, and setting back the in-service date while deferring immediate construction costs would be beneficial.”

DeSmog adds, “Former BC Hydro CEO Marc Eliesen says BC Hydro’s claim that a one-year delay in Site C dam construction will add $420 million to the project’s $8.8 billion cost is ‘effectively illusionary’ and based on ‘fundamentally flawed’ analysis. …Eliesen’s affidavit says that delaying Site C is likely to save B.C. ratepayers ‘more than BC Hydro’s alleged $420 million costs’ of delay. That is due to BC Hydro’s own projections for decreasing demand for electricity, particularly among heavy users such as the pulp and paper industry. Under the circumstances, Eliesen says, proceeding with Site C right now is ‘highly imprudent’.”

DeSmog also notes, “The campers, who call themselves the Treaty 8 Stewards of the Land, are asking for Site C construction to be halted until five legal cases against the dam are resolved and the federal government can review Site C’s potential infringement on constitutionally-protected treaty rights.”

Site C

The Council of Canadians is among the many groups and individuals opposed to the dam or calling for a delay in its construction including:

  • Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs

  • National Chief Perry Bellegarde, Assembly of First Nations

  • twenty-three First Nations across British Columbia, Alberta, and the Northwest Territories

  • Amnesty International

  • David Suzuki

  • The Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 15

  • Sierra Club BC

  • Andrew Weaver, leader of the BC Green Party

  • The Union of British Columbia Municipalities

  • Ecojustice

  • Greenpeace Canada

  • The Canadian Federation of Students

  • numerous other provincial and national groups.

If the injunction is granted on Feb. 22, the land defenders who remain on their own Treaty 8 territory will risk arrest.

Further reading
Council of Canadians supporter visits land defenders opposing Site C dam (Feb. 5, 2016)
Council of Canadians signs joint letter opposing Site C dam (Feb. 11, 2016)
Site C dam not clean, not green, not economical and not in the public interest, says Council of Canadians (Dec. 16, 2014)

Photos: Council of Canadians support Marilyn Belak at the Site C camp.