MOBERLY LAKE, B.C. – A trial that was supposed to begin in March between West Moberly First Nations and BC Hydro over claims that Site C violated Treaty 8 rights has moved to closed door meetings.

West Moberly’s lawsuit filed in 2018 against BC Hydro and the provincial and federal governments was expected to lead to a 120-day trial this year, however, the infringement claim was adjourned.

The update comes from BC Hydro’s annual progress report, stating the “parties to the litigation are continuing confidential discussions to seek to settle this litigation.”

In February 2019, the Government of British Columbia, BC Hydro, West Moberly First Nations and Prophet River First Nation agreed to enter into confidential discussions to seek alternatives to litigation related to the Site C Project.

West Moberly withdrew from discussions in August of the same year and filed an amended Notice of Civil Claim in September 2019. the report said.

The province and BC Hydro negotiated an agreement in August 2020 to settle the litigation with Prophet River.

Last year, Chief Roland Willson of West Moberly First Nations penned a letter to Premier John Horgan urging him to suspend all Site C work, claiming the long-awaited Site C report failed to identify safe options to complete the dam.

In the letter, Willson said if the trial favoured West Moberly, the court would be asked to order a permanent work stoppage and full reclamation of the site to its natural state.

The band hired independent hydrologists in 2015 that reported BC Hydro failed to “adequately model the groundwater regime at the dam site, particularly on the south bank.” Additionally, the report warned of potential dam failure and recommended water pressure monitoring devices be implemented.

In May 2021, West Moberly gained access to all Site C documents relating to safety and projected costs.

Site C’s budget in April 2018 was estimated at $10.7 billion, which included reserve and contingency funds of $1.5 billion.

In February 2021, Horgan announced a new $16 billion price tag for the project along with a one-year delay.

Construction on the project began in 2015.