Province and First Nations enter into confidential discussions about Site C

Province and First Nations enter into confidential discussions about Site C

Prep work for construction of the Site C dam takes place in 2016. The dam would flood 5,500 hectares of the Peace River Valley if completed, and provide energy to power the equivalent of around 500,000 homes. (Justin McElroy/CBC)

File photo of prep work for construction of the Site C dam in 2016. (Justin McElroy/CBC)

The province has announced they will enter into negotiations alongside B.C. Hydro with the West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations to seek alternatives to litigation related to the Site C dam project.

Last year civil claims were filed by the two First Nations that said the Site C dam, in conjunction with the two previous dams on the Peace River, unjustifiably infringe their rights under Treaty 8.

The Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation say the parties will still continue trial preparations as discussions proceed on alternatives to litigation.

They appeared in court Tuesday and proposed a case plan for a 120-day trial commencing in 2022.

The Site C dam was first proposed in the mid-1950s. According to BC Hydro, the dam, which would be built on the Peace River near Fort St. John in northern B.C., would produce about 4,600-gigawatt hours of electricity each year ? enough to power about 400,000 homes.

The project has faced criticism from many indigenous groups, and a United Nations committee has warned that continued construction may violate international agreements that committed  Canada to prevent development on Indigenous land without adequate consultation.

The former Liberal government approved the dam, originally slated at $8.3 billion, back in 2014. It is the largest construction project in the province’s history

Following concerns from some about environmental impact and treaty issues the NDP Government, just five months after being sworn in back in 2017 they decided to go ahead with the $10.7-billion project — following a report from the  BC Utilities Commission.

The cost to terminate the project, the government said, would be $4 billion over a 10-year period. Rates would be significantly higher, with an increase of 12 per cent, effective by 2020.

If Site C was terminated, the government said a single-family home on Vancouver Island that has a $1,650-year bill would see the bill go up by $198 a year, effective in 2020.

Green Leader Andrew Weaver criticized the decision and said that British Columbians deserve better.


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