A news release from the First Nation’s Leadership Council last week suggested July could be the month when push comes to shove in the debate over the construction of the Peace River Site C dam.
It said the Treaty 8 First Nations had received notice from BC Hydro that as early as July 6 — five days prior to the tenth annual Paddle for the Peace protest event — construction work could begin at the project site.
However, spokesman Dave Conway still says the exact date will depend on when Hydro gets back permits to start work on Crown land.
“It’s not our intent to do any work until probably mid-July,” Conway said.
“That type of work would be things like initial mobilization, site preparation, things like fencing, getting security down to site, nothing on the large side.”
Conway added: “We still have the main civil works contract that’s out. We have four short-listed proponents for that and that’s the actual contract for the construction of the dam. We hope to be able to name a preferred proponent… this fall.”
The First Nation’s Leadership Council is now on record as extremely concerned construction will commence prior to the July 20 beginning of the Federal Court challenge by the Treaty 8 Nations and other dam opponents who are seeking a judicial review of Ottawa’s decision to support the project.
Robert Phillips of the First Nations Summit political executive says, “The provincial government seems to have tunnel vision when it comes to building this project.”
Phillips adds, “By denying the Treaty 8 First Nations their day in court, the government is making an outright statement it is above democratic rights and the judicial system.”
However, Mr. Conway says, “We can’t speculate on where the court cases will go or how long they will take.
“We’re continuing to do the things we can do, conscious of moving forward in a slow and measured manner, and we’ll see what the outcome of the court cases are.”
We note again Hydro is hosting a series of July open houses in Fort St. John, Taylor, Hudson’s Hope, Chetwynd and Dawson Creek, to provide more information to the public about its construction planning.
It should also be noted these meetings are in addition to the forthcoming Hydro job fairs in Fort St. John, Chetwynd, and Tumbler Ridge.
More information is available from the local Chamber of Commerce office at 250-785-6037 or the project website at sitecproject.com.