Site C is a hydroelectric generating system proposed by BC Hydro that, if approved, will be built on the Peace River in northeastern BC. The Peace River, which lies in the heart of our Treaty 8 Territory, already hosts two large-scale hydroelectric structures: The WAC Bennett and the Peace Canyon dams.
These two dams, which began generating electricity in 1968 and 1980, respectively, destroyed vast amounts of wetland and critical wildlife habitat and interfered with the lives of First Nations peoples.
The Site C project, which has been proposed since the 1970s and has been opposed by First Nations for the same duration of time, would create a reservoir 83 kilometers long with a surface area of 9,310 hectares. It could impact up to 337 archaeological sites that have been recorded in its identified study area, and would impact Treaty 8 First Nations’ constitutionally protected treaty rights.
BC Hydro unilaterally developed a multi-staged approach to evaluate the proposed Site C project. Of the five-staged approach, we are currently in Stage 3. The stages are broken down as follows:
Stage 1. Review of Project Feasibility
Stage 2. Consultation and Technical Review
Stage 3. Environmental and Regulatory Review
Stage 4. Detailed Design and Engineering
Stage 5. Construction
Rationale for Opposition to Site C:
The following point cards summarize the effects on people and wildlife if the proposed Site C dam were to be constructed.
- Treaty Rights Key Points cards
- Cultural Values Key Points cards
- Impact on Wildlife Key Points cards
- Impact on Fish Key Points cards
- Medicinal Plants Key Points cards
The “Proposed Site C Project” Joint Review Panel (JRP) hearings commence December 9, 2013. These hearings are scheduled to take place for a 30-day period ending on January 23, 2014. They are designed to be an information-gathering process for the panel to deliver its recommendations in the form of a Panel Report expected in April 2014.
The Treaty 8 Tribal Association, on behalf of Doig River, Halfway River, Prophet River and West Moberly First Nations, has been involved in the environmental assessment (EA) process since it began. We are intervening in the hearings on a number of fronts. We are also reporting our findings to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA), which is the go-between for Treaty 8 and BC Hydro. The CEAA considers our findings against BC Hydro’s statements.
The Treaty 8 First Nations are opposed to the proposed Site C Project for a number of reasons, including the estimated $8-billion cost to ratepayers, the environmental impacts, and the loss of sacred archeological, burial and sites, as well as the impacts on Treaty rights.
We have already felt the adverse impacts of two major dams on the Peace River. The WAC Bennett and Peace Canyon Dams and their reservoirs have altered the landscape in the region, imposing significant environmental impacts that have not been addressed to this day.
The Peace River Valley is a special and unique place and cannot be replaced. The impacts of the project are significant, far-reaching, and cannot be mitigated. Therefore, Treaty 8’s position is that this project is unacceptable, and that alternative solutions to meeting the province’s energy needs must be assessed in a meaningful way.
The proposed Site C project, if built, will exacerbate the impacts already felt in the region by large-scale hydroelectric development.