No new contracts, no evictions, while the Site C dam faces review

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 1, 2017

VANCOUVER—BC Hydro must not award any new dam contracts before the BC Utilities Commission concludes its review of the Site C dam, say a broad coalition of citizens’ and environmental groups across BC and Canada. Given the current uncertainty over Site C’s fate, BC Hydro must put a pause on evictions and damage to First Nations heritage sites.

“The incumbent government has no mandate to push Site C further, since the government-in-waiting has committed to a review of the project by the BC Utilities Commission,” stated Morag Keegan-Henry with the Lower Mainland group FightC.

A new $2 billion contract for a generating station, powerhouse and spillways was expected in 2017, but has not yet been signed with any of the four shortlisted proponents. There have been many on-site problems and non-compliance issues. In February, for example, a huge tension crack suddenly appeared in the slide-prone banks of the Peace River. The river is named after a historical peace agreement between the Cree and Dunneza peoples of Treaty 8 territory.

“BC Hydro could make a ‘business as usual’ announcement about the $2 billion contract as early as July 2017. This is something that the NDP and the Greens must prevent,” according to George Smith with the Alliance 4 Democracy on the Sunshine Coast. “This white elephant must be stopped in its expensive, wasteful tracks.”

The Boon and Meek families in the Peace have had their evictions postponed till the end of June, but if road realignment work continues, they remain in danger of losing their homes. “Multi-generational farm families still face eviction this summer under the dam’s rushed timelines,” said Andrea Morison of the Peace Valley Environment Association. “No one should be evicted from their homes until the BCUC has completed its work.”

Craig Benjamin of Amnesty International pointed out, “Even if the BCUC review is expedited, devastating harms to farming families and First Nations will still result unless the dam’s planned schedule is suspended during the review. In particular, no activities should be permitted that would cause irreversible harm to First Nations’ grave sites and other cultural heritage.”

“Given the incoming government’s commitment to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the calls-to-action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Tsilhqot’in Supreme Court decision, First Nations’ concerns must be honoured,” added Joe Foy of the Wilderness Committee.  “BC Hydro should suspend activities that are destructive to the Peace River Valley.”

“As the province moves forward with the BC Utilities Commission review, activities on the dam site should be limited to environmental monitoring and addressing impacts such as those related to minimizing silt leakage, sedimentation, and slope stability,” suggested Candace Batycki, Program Director of the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative.

“The current government has no social license to authorize BC Hydro to award new contracts,” said Tim Pearson of Sierra Club BC. “The results of the election clearly show the voters have serious concerns about Site C, and those concerns must be honoured by the incumbent government.”

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For more information contact:

George Smith, Alliance 4 Democracy  604.989.5094

Andrea Morison, Peace Valley Environment Association  250.793.7279

Joe Foy, National Campaign Director, Wilderness Committee  604.880.2580

Tim Pearson, Communications Director, Sierra Club BC  250.896.1556

Document: Media release