Need for Mega Dam Project Not Proven, Impacts to Traditional Ways of Life Recognized
FORT ST. JOHN/TREATY 8 TERRITORY, BC, May 8, 2014 /CNW/ - After a high-level review of the Joint Review Panel Report on the proposed Site C Project released this afternoon, the Treaty 8 Tribal Association communities of Halfway River, Prophet River and West Moberly First Nations are pleased with a number of recommendations outlined in the report, including that there is no proven need for the project.
"We have said from the beginning that there is no need for this project, and today the panel indicated that it agrees with us - BC Hydro did not prove that Site C and the energy it will create is necessary right now," said Tribal Chief Liz Logan. "This opens the door for us to have conversations about alternatives -local projects with benefits for local people - projects like smaller hydro, wind, natural gas and even geothermal."
Additional report findings include recognition that Site C would have "significant adverse effect" on the traditional ways of life for Treaty 8 communities, including fishing opportunities, hunting and non-tenured trapping, and that "some of these effects cannot be mitigated" if the project were to go ahead.
"The Panel came to our communities, we told them our stories, they listened and they heard us," added Logan. "Our way of life is closely tied to the river, the land and the animals of the Peace River Valley. We are happy that the Panel acknowledged this importance and what could be lost, not only for our current generation, but for generations to come."
The Panel also recognized that the Peace Region "has been and is currently undergoing enormous stress from resource development," and that "foreseeable future projects would result in significant cumulative effects, with effects already significant before Site C is developed.
Treaty 8 maintains a regional environmental assessment is critical to ensuring that projects considered for development are evaluated properly, taking into consideration current and proposed projects, instead of evaluating projects on their own merits.
Finally, the Panel recommended that, if the Project does not proceed, the Province, after consultation with affected local parties, remove the flood reserve that earmarks land in the valley for the Site C reservoir. Removing the flood reserve would prevent Site C from ever being developed.
"We hope that the findings of this report will be a catalyst to encourage the Province to have a more meaningful dialogue with northern communities about the types of projects that are right for the region, instead of making a mistake that will have long term, detrimental consequences for all British Columbians," said Logan.
If constructed, Site C would flood the Peace River Valley from Fort St. John to the existing Peace Canyon Dam west of Hudson's Hope, as well as the mouths of the Halfway and Moberly Rivers. The Treaty 8 First Nations and many others in northeast British Columbia have raised serious concerns about the proposal, which was previously rejected by the Provincial government in the early 1980s.
SOURCE: Treaty 8 Tribal Association
For further information:
In Vancouver: Elisha McCallum, for Treaty 8 Tribal Association - 778-668-0185
In Fort St John: Jeff Richert, Treaty 8 Tribal Association - 250-785-0612