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No need for Site C mega-dam, Treaty 8 Tribal Association agrees

The recent Joint Review Panel report for the proposed Site C hydroelectric dam -- which, if built, would be on Peace River in northeast BC, the heart of Treaty 8 territory. Although the report cites some "clear" benefits of the project, the Treaty 8 Tribal Association agrees with the report that BC Hydro has not "fully demonstrated the need for the project". 

Photo of Tribal Chief Liz Logan by Zack Embree

The Joint Review Panel report on the proposed Site C hydroelectric dam has found that despite some major benefits of the project, BC Hydro has not proven the need for the $8-billion mega project. 

The project -- which BC Hydro has trying to move forward for over 30 years -- would be built on Peace River if approved, which is in the heart of the Treaty 8 territory. Upon review of the report, the Treaty 8 Tribal Association communities of Halfway River, Prophet River and West Moberly First Nations said they supported some of the recommendations and conclusions outlined in the report.

"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 in a news release. 

"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," Logan said. "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."

Currently, the territory hosts two large-scale hydroelectric structures:The WAC Bennett and the Peace Canyon dams, which the association says have adversely affected wildlife in the area.

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.

The Panel recommended that, if Site C 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.

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