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Williams Lake chapter helps raise funds for Treaty 8 legal challenge vs Site C dam

Photo by Garth Lenz

The Council of Canadians Williams Lake chapter helped to raise funds for a Treaty 8 legal challenge against the Site C hydroelectric dam.

Chapter activist John Dressler tells us, “The chapter hosted the Site C Roadshow (as Nelson and Kamloops did) on Nov. 16. Had a decent turnout (33) and raised $400 for the Treaty 8 Nation’s legal challenge.”

West Moberly First Nations and Prophet River First Nation have launched several challenges in both provincial and federal courts against Site C. The dam would flood 10,000 hectares of their traditional territories. Both nations have argued British Columbia failed to consult them as required. While the Supreme Court of BC ruled against them on October 31, the nations may appeal that decision as other legal battles continue.

The Great Site C Roadshow took place between October 26 and November 30 and visited eleven communities in British Columbia.

The Sierra Club BC promotion for the tour stated, “Please join us in your town for a gathering full of inspiration, solidarity and action for the Peace Valley. Learn why Treaty 8 First Nations and Peace Valley farmers are standing strong for the Peace, and how we can support them to stop Site C. Speakers from the Saulteau First Nation and from Sierra Club BC will be joined along the way by a roster of inspiring advocates for the Peace Valley.” The speakers at the Williams Lake event were Ana Simeon from Sierra Club BC and Ben Parfitt from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Site C could become a provincial election issue as voters begin to consider how to cast their ballots on May 9, 2017.

Earlier this week, The Globe and Mail reported, “The Leader of British Columbia’s Opposition New Democrats [John Horgan] says he won’t take a position on the most expensive public infrastructure project in the province’s history until after next spring’s election, resisting calls from former NDP premier [Mike Harcourt] to campaign on a promise to kill the Site C dam. …Resource development, including the Site C dam and controversial pipeline and liquefied natural gas projects, are an area of clear disagreement between Mr. Horgan’s New Democrats and B.C. Premier Christy Clark’s Liberals. Ms. Clark has been a strong supporter of Site C and LNG exports…”

Also last week, CBC reported, “Jessica McDonald, BC Hydro’s president and CEO, said [on December 12] that the company is expropriating Ken and Arlene Boon’s property to allow for the start of highway realignment work linked to the $8.8-billion Site C dam project. The Boons must be out of their home by May 31, but they will be allowed to continue farming their land for two more years, McDonald said. The agreement allowing the Boons to stay on the property temporarily was not reached by consent but was signed last week by the family and the B.C. government, she said.”

Ken Boon says, “This valley is a treasure and there’s no need to be doing this. It’s really a crying shame.”

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 in the summer of 2015. This past summer, the Trudeau government granted a Navigation Protection Act permit and Fisheries Act permit for the construction of the Site C dam despite the ongoing legal challenges. The dam is scheduled to be operational in 2024.

The Council of Canadians first formally expressed its opposition to the Site C dam in October 2014.