Common Sense Canadian

Landowners launch Site C Dam court challenge, First Nations next

PostedApril 22, 2015 by in BC

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:

For our future food security, to be flooding this river valley is just insanity.

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.


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.



    Be interesting to “follow the money”.
    It seems ANY mega project these days involves political campaign contributions or cushy, high paying jobs for former politicians and their assistants.( Same goes for former MSM reporters and journalists that have sold their souls to the almighty dollar and become political or corporate lickspittles).
    Who gains from the construction of this uncessary and unwanted dam?
    Not the taxpayers.
    Not the local people directly affected.
    Not BC Hydro currently drowning in debt.
    Not LNG plants that are being planned and then cancelled.

    $9 billion dollars to secure a few jobs as honorary spokesmen/ boardmembers for big business for expoliticians is far far too high a price to pay…..
    Pathetic if it wasnt so typical in todays political and corporate environment.
    May they all eventually rot in jail.
    But I wont hold my breath.


    1)The Site C farmland is class 1 alluvial soil, with a mild climate, capabable of growing a wide range of crops.
    2) The Site C Dam puts food security for the Metro Vancouver population at risk. Scientists at the BC Ministry of Agriculture have estimated that we must increase the amount of prime irrigated farmland in BC by 240,000 acres if we are to feed ourselves. Those class 1 alluvial soils, with ample water for irrigation, only exist in the Fraser Valley and Peace Valley.
    3) Much of California is desert land reclaimed by massive irrigation systems. As the demand for water by cities increases and snow pack decreases the California farmland that has been feeding us is returning to the desert.
    4) The Peace River farmland is closer to Metro Vancouver than either California or Mexico.
    5) Metro Vancouver cities have embarked on a series of energy alternatives that can produce enough power for 900,000 to over 1 million homes, double the power from Site C.

    The Site C Dam is not needed for domestic power. The BC Government should be assisting Peace River farmers in bringing this land into food production.


    With California down to 1 year supply of water and Chrispy itching to flood 1000s of acres of desirable farmland , who can not argue that she is destroying the provinces ability to sustain ourselves . In the rapidly approaching event of California`s inability to produce crops due to the drought BC will be in a bad way. The liberals should be thinking of the provinces future no their own and their donors.


    My surprise in this disgusting situation? Bill Bennett is not behind bars for removing an integral component of our democracy (BCUC) from Site C Dam hearings. Bennett comes by his nickname honestly, “Bulldozer Bill.”

    John's Aghast

    Only in Canader, eh! Where else could a person without any formal education rise to a position where they could mandate this sort of folly. It is so encouraging to meet a man standing up for his convictions, and especially so when he is so apparently right!
    I expect this valley would be teeming with agricultural activity had BC Hydro not interfered in the 1970’s. Who in their right mind would devote the energy, time and money to develop this vibrant agricultural industry, knowing that it was going to be flooded just as their efforts were to bear fruit?
    Go away Lieberals and foul someone else’s nest.

    Don F.

    Shame to them this government who knows little about life and how to sustain it. For a pipe dream they would loose it all. Our futures lie in the hands of people so inadequate. We must right this at any cost or pay the price. What means so much to so many, they will give away without notice!


      Well said Don F. We don’t have a Need for more electricity, when we do there are less costly alternatives than this destructive massive white elephant.

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