Common Sense Canadian

BC Hydro rushes to cut down eagles’ nests for Site C Dam, First Nations seek injunction

PostedAugust 11, 2015 by in BC

Treaty 8 First Nations are seeking an injunction as BC Hydro rushes to cut down a number of Bald Eagles’ nests along the Peace River, starting next month, for Site C Dam.

Treaty 8 drummers above proposed Site C Dam (Damien Gillis)

Treaty 8 drummers above proposed Site C Dam (Damien Gillis)

The news came by way of a 30-day notice issued to Treaty 8 representatives on June 30 (read here). Hydro received a package of permits from the BC Liberal government on July 7, authorizing a wide range of work on the controversial $9 Billion project – including one green-lighting the removal and destruction of eagles’ nests. Yet, with the dam facing multiple ongoing legal challenges, opponents are questioning the rush to cut down trees on various Peace River islands housing the nests – especially given the proposed reservoir wouldn’t be flooded for years, nor meaningful work undertaken on the dam site any time soon.

Drums of Peace

On August 7, Treaty 8 members held a cultural demonstration on the banks of the Peace – overlooking the proposed dam site and an island that is home to several eagles – to beat their drums and voice their opposition to the planned destruction of nests and the project as a whole.

“Eagles are very significant…to myself and my culture,” said Treaty 8 member Susan Auger.

It’s something that’s really got my blood boiling that they’re going to come and cut down eagles’ nests.

Injunction filed

Two Treaty 8 Nations filed a petition in BC Supreme Court last week to quash Hydro’s permits and halt work – on the basis that they have not been properly consulted on such matters. “We’re hoping that injunction happens sooner than later,” said Auger, ideally in mid-August, prior to the start of eagle nest destruction.

Hydro’s letter states that it “must compensate for the ‘removal or destruction of documented Bald Eagle nests by installing a minimum of 38 artificial nesting platforms’ during the construction period.”

That had West Moberly First Nations elder George Desjarlais mocking the utility:

Now, I don’t know how they communicated with the eagles – how they spoke with them to get them to understand that this is your new home.

First Nations draw big-name support

Site C has drawn strong criticism from a long list of influential groups and individuals – including, recently, former Hydro CEO Marc Eliesen and the now-retired Joint Review Panel Chair for the project, Harry Swain.

Site C work yard as of Aug 11, 2015 (Donald Hoffmann)

Site C work yard as of Aug 11, 2015 (Donald Hoffmann)

With Site C, BC Hydro ratepayers will be facing a devastating increase of anywhere between 30 and 40 per cent over the next three years,” Eliesen told DeSmog Canada in a revealing interview earlier this month. “There’s no rush. There’s no immediate need for Site C or any other alternative energy.”

The Treaty 8 First Nations and farmers on the front lines of the battle against Site C have garnered numerous other impressive supporters, including the BC Government Employees’ Union, the Board of Metro Vancouver, and former ALR Chair Richard Bullock.

And yet, Hydro seems intent on ploughing ahead, as it has already issued contracts for preparatory work on both the north and south banks of the river, near the dam site. This process is drawing criticism for its lack of transparency – and the fact that one big contract has already gone out of province, to an Alberta company.

“Before the courts”

“There’s no real saving right now by going ahead with this work,” says local businessman Bob Fedderly, adding, “It’s kind of hypocritical on [the Liberal Government’s] behalf when we can’t even talk about some things that are before the courts, and here we are going ahead with a project that’s being contested by various groups.”

Despite Hydro and the government’s posture, First Nations and their fellow dam opponents remain defiant. As Saulteau First Nations member Art Napoleon said at last week’s event, “We are here to let them here our songs to remind them that, whatever it takes, we’re not going away.”

A fundraising campaign for Treaty 8’s legal challenges has raised over $90,000 in the past few months after the Peace Valley Landowners’ Association met their goal of $200,000 earlier this year.


About the Author

Damien Gillis

Damien Gillis is a Vancouver-based documentary filmmaker with a focus on environmental and social justice issues - especially relating to water, energy, and saving Canada's wild salmon - working with many environmental organizations in BC and around the world. He is the co-founder, along with Rafe Mair, of The Common Sense Canadian, and a board member of both the BC Environmental Network and the Haig-Brown Institute.



    Don’t forget they need a lot of water , add a whole bunch of chemicals,and jam it into the ground to get the gas out….i believe thats the reason for site C,not hydro electric

    Dan Willson

    I’m appalled by the lack of investigative journalism. Did you go to college? A couple of phone calls or a plane ride up to the Peace Country to investigate this eagle’s nest story. This just isn’t true. Get your facts Damien.

      Damien Gillis

      Where do you think I filmed this video, Dan? I’ve spent a lot of time in the valley and my family settled there 100 years ago. I’ve seen the eagles and the nests. The story clearly sources and provides the letter from BC Hydro notifying Treaty 8 of exactly what they plan to do to the eagles’ nests. It’s right there for you to read. What are you talking about?!

    tom baker

    Are Eagles not protected Canada wide ?? The gov over stepping the line again,need to be pushed back !!!!


    We need lawyers to take this on because they believe in our environment and they would like to think that their children’s children will still have an environment left to enjoy. Lawyers! Please step up to the plate. BC Hydro/BC Liberals have a bottomless pit of money to draw on but there’s one thing they don’t have. The truth.

    Dams are old technology. Site C is all about crony favors and a corrupt Liberal government who want to chirp, “See what we did.” Their legacy will be well deserved. The worst government in the history of British Columbia.

      John's Aghast

      Salal: Lawyers are not the answer – they’re the problem. BC Hydro has a whole phalanx of them.
      What we need is more concerned VOTERS! Voters concerned about the environment. Voters who can see through the lieberals web of lies. Voters who are concerned about their children’s and grandchildren’s future.

      If Chrispy and BS Bill want a legacy, they have Mount Polley – and the creek that keeps on polluting forever.

    rick Koechl

    The need for Site C has NOT been demonstrated.
    In spite of the JRP’s point, it is time to look at the natural gas option.
    A natural gas cogen system could be built at 1/7 the cost of a Site C and operated at 1/3 the cost with the persist cost of Natural Gas.
    What’s stopping up???
    The government has deemed that natural gas does NOT qualify as a CLEAN energy in spite of us being willing to export 1000X the amount in LNG.
    Does it matter where it is burned??? Apparently, this government is not willing to accept the “optics” of this trade off. So….be prepared to pay the economic price of this disaster.


    Our government/BC Hydro would feel right at home in a third world country. They treat our democracy with blatant disdain. They do not consider the taxpayer their employer. They do not give a damn about us or our environment. Two more years of this crap?


    This is unbelievable we have been trying to save and help the eagles for years and now the govt in Victoria has the ignorance to just tear the nests down We have tried for years to make artificial nests to help them but they are very independant birds and dont do what you think they will but I guess when the govt. speaks they are supposed to listenChristy I hope you are lookig up at one of there nests when they leave

    Roy Kelly

    As a member of the PVLA , and a directly affected landowner, I am hopeful we will stop this stupidity of this government. What is making me very mad is the fact that this gov,t and BC Hydro are spending our tax dollars on Site C and it hasn,t gone through all of the courts yet. Shame on you Christy Clark. You don,t deserve to be a representative of this provence nor do you deserve to be a British Columbian

    John's Aghast

    Good for you Hydro! What an altruistic move – awarding dam contracts to Albertans to help them weather the labour surfeit due to their oil meltdown. Never mind that they will source their supplies from PST exempt Alberta, that their employees taxes will revert to Alberta. As Chrispy says, ‘we don’t need the revenue – we have LNG’.
    And when the Courts decide that First Nations and landowners were right, BC taxpayers can reward the Albertans for the damages due to loss of contracts (remember Boss Mines?)


    Some good summer reading is Edward Abbey’s ‘Monkey Wrench Gang’. I once found a copy illustrated by Robert Crumb. Who was it that said “when tyranny becomes governance, resistance is mandatory.”


    In the cost/benefit analysis how much is a Bald Eagle worth? Someone at BCH has the answer. This summer we are learning to conserve water like never before. We can also learn to use electric power more intelligently as well. Adaptability is our greatest strength. A good friend told me a few years ago that he thought “MBA’s will kill the earth.” I see no reason not to believe him. Travel well my friends but DO NOT FUCK WITH THE LOCALS. It is time to pass the feather to Cristy Clark. peas, radish

    Schitts Creek

    Relax, people. Eagles are over-running northern B.C. and southern Yukon. Hydro power is clean power. It just requires sacrificing some land mass. That or nuclear. You choose, in your lefty urban energy-sucking condo-Hell. lol

      Damien Gillis

      One of the key finding of the Joint Review Power was that the need for Site C HAS NOT been demonstrated. Therefore your choice is a false dichotomy. And there are many to whom eagles are sacred who would find your contention pretty offensive.

      Rick Koechl

      hey Mr Shit (sorry) lSchitt
      Just thought to remind you that natural gas can also be used for the EXACT same purpose to produce electricity, at 1/7 the cost of this dam AND at a FRACTION compared with nuclear.
      Please…..refrain from the LEFTY stuff (hurts my feelings because I write with my left hand). I am fiscally CONSERVATIVE (as I presume you are…….) so let’s get realistic and use the NGAS. By the way, all the LNG???? Where;s it supposed to go???? Overseas for someone else to get the advantage that we CANNOT use here in BC due to the CLEANENERGY ACT.


      “Relax, people. Eagles are over-running northern B.C. and southern Yukon. Hydro power is clean power. It just requires sacrificing some land mass. That or nuclear. You choose, in your lefty urban energy-sucking condo-Hell. Lol”

      Ok listen up shitts creek. Here is some education that you so obviously lack on this issue;

      1. Site C is being developed for one reason only; to sell power to a non-existent industry the LNG industry. We don’t even have a goddamn plant built and running yet.

      2. By adding one turbine to the Revelstoke project, this will bring half of the output of a site C.
      Cost = half a million dollars for the extra turbine.

      Now ask yourself why we need to build a damn for a nonexistent industry and further, why not add a turbine to an already existing project.

      Then there is the issue for destroying good arable land and for what exactly? So why do we need to destroy habitat?

      And if we don’t agree with the hydro decision we are all lefties who live in condos?

      Using labels like Liberal, Conservative, Left, and Right exhibits laxity of thought. It is an ad hominem argument, no better than name-calling, and lacks substance.


        My mistake. It is 500 million for the extra turbine at Revelstoke not half a million.
        Compared to 9 billion for site C.

    Rosemary Breschuk-Chiu

    This is UTTERLY OUTRAGEOUS! How utterly disrespectful! Is ANYONE as outraged as I am? The $%(#^ BC Hydro imbeciles think that the eagles will simply relocate to man-made eagle posts the utility company will erect. Just WHERE did they get THAT idea?? Forget consultation with the Treaty 8 First Nations….who consulted the Eagles??

    K Forest

    Our climate is changing. Big hydro dams will not be the efficient tool for electrical generation they have been in the past. Any time over the 100 year life of the proposed Site C dam there could be equal or larger droughts than California is experiencing, to the Peace area, leaving the dam incapable of generating power. Likewise in that time, there could be massive flooding, depending on the location of the jet stream, which could compromise the integrity of the dam. The pacific ocean is heating and releasing large volumes of water vapor into our atmosphere. With a rise in temperature, water vapor in our atmosphere will increase. Depending on where it falls as rain(or does not fall), all dams will be subject to increasing chances of extremes in weather and climate including drought and flooding. Likewise, climate change will affect BC’s ability to both grow its own food and import food. The Peace valley and its non-replaceable top soil can support over 1 million people with market garden fruit and vegetables; but not if it has been forever destroyed. Site C needs to stop now, and for good.

      Julie Hunter

      Thank-you!! and you could ad to that: Consider the Massive carbon footprint of excavating, hauling and constructing the dam and all of its infrastructure. And the contamination of groundwater where aggregate material is mined, And when that’s done, how about the amount of electricity that leaches out of the wires as it travels over long distances. What a waste in all ways to the middle. (except of course for the BC heavy industry lobby, and whoever is making interest off the 9 billion that our kids, kids, kids will be paying for – forever)

      John Jeglum

      K Forest. Your analysis is right on. That area is the last of a kind, the agricultural areas and potential areas are irreplaceable. With good management, those soils could be brought to states of high productivity and could be sequestering large amounts of carbon in soil humus forms. The earth has 7.5 billion going to 9, 10 billion, we have to decide what various areas and ecosystems are best used, including non-use reserves. The Peace has huge potential for regenerative agriculture, enlightened fisheries, wildlife and habitat reservations, etc. etc. We should review the treatment by the Suzuki Foundation on valuation of the Peace River area.

    Cathie Reid

    Thank you Treaty 8 First Nations for standing up to protect the eagles and the land, where the BC government and Harper’s federal administration refute their Duty of Care and lack leadership on these important issues. The Peace River lands are too valuable to Canada and future generations for food and a healthy ecosystem.

    Solidarity from the east…

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