The Province of British Columbia, BC Hydro, Canada and West Moberly First Nations have negotiated a partial settlement related to the Site C project.
This is part of West Moberley First Nations’ civil suit against BC Hydro, Canada and the province over claims that Site C violated Treaty 8 rights.
The infringement lawsuit was filed in 2018, and the trial was supposed to be held in March of this year but was moved to closed-door meetings.
“The Site C project has had major impacts on our community, and the flooding and operation of this dam will have effects that will be felt for generations to come,” West Moberly First Nations Chief Roland Willson said.
“The decision to settle this part of the court case was taken with a heavy heart and with serious considerations of the best interests of our community.”
Willson says the band’s focus is now on healing “what remains of our land, to heal our people, and to protect our way of life in the face of all the resource development in Treaty No. 8 territory.”
According to a joint release, BC Hydro and the province will provide West Moberly First Nations with financial benefits, contracting opportunities, the transfer of provincial Crown lands, jointly developed recommendations for land management measures over provincial Crown lands and other benefits.
Included in the settlement is an impact and benefits agreement between BC Hydro and West Moberly, two agreements between BC Hydro and West Moberly providing West Moberly contracting opportunities, a land agreement between the province, BC Hydro and West Moberly, and an agreement providing for the release of West Moberly’s claims against the Site C project.
“Building respectful and meaningful relationships with West Moberly First Nations and all Treaty 8 First Nations impacted by Site C is a priority for BC Hydro. These agreements are an important step in advancing this relationship between West Moberly First Nations and BC Hydro as we move away from litigation,” said Chris O’Riley, president and CEO of BC Hydro.
“I appreciate that it has been a difficult decision for West Moberly to resolve its claims against Site C. These agreements provide us with a foundation to move forward together in a manner that fosters a mutually beneficial relationship. I would like to thank West Moberly First Nations, the Province and Canada for their efforts in working with BC Hydro to complete these important agreements.”
There will also be an agreement settling the litigation claims against Canada related to the Site C project.
West Moberly First Nations has asserted that the existing dams on the Peace River and the impacts of resource development in their territory infringe on their Treaty rights.
The parties involved have agreed to pause the remainder of the civil claim and place it in “abeyance,” meaning a temporary suspension.
The province and West Moberly First Nations have agreed to enter into confidential government-to-government discussions to resolve the remaining matters.