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October 25, 2018

Court rules against First Nations bid to stop Site C dam construction

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The Supreme Court of British Columbia has rejected the injunction of northeastern B.C. First Nations groups that want to cancel the $10-million Site C dam project.

The West Moberly First Nations and Prophet River First Nation argue Site C, a massive hydroelectric dam project along the Peace River in northeast British Columbia, would cause irreparable harm to their lands and way of life. The project also violates their rights, they argue, as defined by Treaty 8 and reinforced by section 35 of the Constitution, which provides constitutional protection to the Indigenous and treaty rights of Indigenous peoples in Canada.

Granting the injunction, wrote Justice Warren Milman in his 98-page decision, would leave the Site C construction site in “disarray.”

“The proposed injunction, in either of its iterations, would be likely to cause significant and irreparable harm to BC Hydro, its ratepayers and other stakeholders in the project, including other First Nations,” the justice wrote.

However, the case was not a total loss for the First Nations. Milman ordered a trial to determine whether the dam project violates treaty rights before the dam’s reservoir is filled in 2023. The First Nations, Milman continued, could “suffer irreparable harm” if a trial is not conducted.

The controversial Site C project, run by BC Hydro, will build the third of four proposed major dams, as well as a generating station along the Peace River between Hudson’s Hope and Fort St. John in northeast British Columbia.

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