There were two major developments in the ongoing debate over construction of the Site C Dam at the end of last week.
Making it clear his ruling had no bearing on a yet to be rendered decision on a First Nations case presented at about the same time last April, a Supreme Court judge dismissed a request by the Peace Valley Landowners Association to quash the environmental assessment certificate for the project.
Justice Robert Sewell ruled it was reasonable for the province to issue the certificate because there were enough public hearings conducted to get input from those who say they would be affected by it.
PVLA President Ken Boon called it a disappointing decision, and didn’t rule out appealing it.
“The government does have quite a bit of latitude on how they make decisions, but, they have to consider the recommendations put forward by the joint review panel. In our mind, they were obviously ingnored that,” said Boon.
“The lawyers are really going to take a look at this and get some differnet opinions and decide if this is the hill we want to fight on or not. Obviously, we’re going onto the federal case. This is just the first of six decisions that will be coming. And then, of course, on top of that, some of them will no doubt be appealed.”
The Federal Court challenges — targeting Ottawa’s approval of the project — are set to begin two weeks from today on July 20, with two Alberta Treaty Eight First Nations scheduled to get the first two days of the work week, the PVLA on the 22, and the BC Treaty Eight nations on July 23 and 24.
Meantime, late Friday Vancouver-area mayors voted overwhelmingly to line up behind the dam opponents after hearing from several speakers including Peace River Region politicians and Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs President Stewart Phillip.
“They’re calling on the premier to do a two-year delay on the start on construction, and in that time they are calling on the Site C project to be sent to the BC Utilities Commission, specifically, and to have it reviewed by the Agricultural Land Commission, for the extraction of the farm land,” Boon said.
“It’s a very resounding message from a board that represents 2.5 million British Columbians.”
Speaking of the start of construction, according to earlier statements from BC Hydro that should occur by the middle of next week, and possibly even before this year’s 10th annual Paddle for the Peace protest event, this coming Saturday.