BC Hydro Ratepayers Association files for review of Site C Fisheries permit

VANCOUVER, B.C. – The BC Hydro Ratepayers Association has filed for a Judicial Review of a fisheries permit issued for construction of the Site C dam.

The permit was issued by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in late August, and according to the wording of the permit “authorizes BC Hydro to conduct specified works and activities likely to result in serious harm to fish.” According to environmental assessment predictions, the Site C dam will cause the extinction of local populations of Arctic Grayling, as well as substantial reductions in populations of Bull Trout and Mountain Whitefish.

The Association is arguing that the impact of the megaproject on both the environment and First Nations was not adequately justified before the permit was granted.

The West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations allege that the dam infringes on their treaty rights and are currently awaiting a ruling from the Federal Court of Appeal, hoping that the court will halt construction on the project. In the meantime, opponents of the dam argue that the effects of ongoing construction on local fisheries will have major consequences for First Nations groups who rely on those fisheries in order to maintain their traditional lifestyles and food source.

“BC Hydro has deliberately dismissed its legal duty to adequately consult the Treaty 8 people on the future well-being and sustainability of resident fish stocks such as Arctic Grayling, Mountain Whitefish and Bull Trout,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, in response to the filing. “Congratulations and kudos to the BC Hydro Ratepayers Association for standing up to the ongoing arrogant, unilateralist actions on the part of BC Hydro.”

The Ratepayers Association also questioned the justification for the $8.8 billion project in the light of expert testimony that the power from the Site C dam is not required to meet British Columbia’s energy needs.

The filing comes on the heels of calls from a number of groups asking Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to halt construction of the dam until all current court cases regarding the project are resolved, and the project gets reviewed by the BC Utilities Commission.