First Nation, farmers union renew calls to stop Site C

The West Moberly First Nation and National Farmers Union have renewed calls for the province to discontinue building the Site C dam.

The call from West Moberly comes with a request for the government to release the dam’s latest construction progress reports as well as a report prepared by special advisor Peter Milburn.

Chief Roland Willson says the province's failure to sit down and talk with West Moberly about the escalating costs and safety concerns about the estimated $10.7-billion project could lead to further legal action.

“Our position hasn’t changed. We’re still willing to sit down and speak with B.C. about alternatives to Site C, trying to get them off of destroying the valley,” Willson said.

“They don’t have to destroy this valley, infringing our treaty rights. All of this will be for naught. We could have avoided all of this if we sat down and had real discussions on how to meet energy needs.”

West Moberly is currently suing the Province, BC Hydro, and Canada over the project, alleging Site C has violated its rights under Treaty 8. A 120-day Supreme Court trial is expected to start in March 2022.

The province has turned to two international experts to review the latest findings from Milburn's review.

Willson said he’s baffled why the Province continues to support a project that was also put before the BC Utilities Commission for review.

“When you look at what the BCUC said, they could have scrapped the project and came away clean,” Willson said of the government. “Maybe it’s a thing of pride with them now, maybe they don’t want to admit they were wrong.”

The NFU meanwhile began a letter writing campaign last month, asking farmers and citizens to voice their concerns about the project.

Bess Legault, a Peace region farmer and the NFU's women’s president, said COVID-19 has exposed a need for local food security. She said the alluvial soils and microclimate of the Peace Valley has the capacity to feed more than one million people a year, indefinitely.

“There is still time for the provincial government to course correct away from Site C in favour of a thriving and climate-compatible agricultural future in the Peace Region,” said Legault.

In November, the NFU passed a resolution calling on the Province to stop the project, citing geotechnical issues, Treaty 8 rights violations, and the loss of farmland as primary concerns.

The NFU is proposing a collaborative strategy with colleges and universities to form a co-operative in the Peace and advance organic farming and climate-adaptive agriculture. Legault co-ordinates a community food network in the region called the Northern Co-Hort. 

As of Monday, there were 989 workers reported at the Site C camp.

Email Tom Summer at tsummer@ahnfsj.ca.

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