Landowners launch Site C Dam court challenge, First Nations next
On Monday, a group of landowners and farmers from BC’s Peace River Valley launched the first of seven legal challenges that threaten to derail the government’s $9 Billion planned Site C Dam.
This challenge is rooted in the government’s decision to ignore key concerns raised by the Joint Review Panel for the project – including cost and the fact that the need for the project had not been demonstrated, while alternatives were left unexplored.
“This is about applying the rule of law,” counsel Maegen Giltrow told media outside the court Monday morning, explaining that the government had violated its own terms of reference in issuing an environmental certificate over key objections from the panel. Retired panel chair Harry Swain recently made waves by publicly criticizing the government on this score.
Meanwhile, BC Treaty 8 First Nations will be at the BC Supreme Court in Vancouver this Thursday to launch their own legal challenge. First Nations and their allies will be gathering and demonstrating at the courthouse in support of the case.
In addition to these two provincial challenges, both the Peace Valley Landowners’ Association and BC Treaty 8 First Nations are bringing legal actions against the project in federal court. Project proponent BC Hydro attempted to expedite those cases in order to clear the way for a summer construction start but that request was dismissed by the court.
Similar cases are being brought by Alberta Treaty 8 First Nations, along with a sweeping challenge by the Blueberry River First Nation over a century of broken treaty promises to be able to continue practicing their traditions on the land.
Co-plaintiff and longtime farmer Ken Boon noted that Site C would flood some of Canada’s best farmland while destroying his family home:
Yet Boon seemed heartened by the outpouring of support the landowners and First Nations have received from around the province, which includes over $185,000 raised toward the organization’s $200,000 goal to fund their legal work.