By Roy L Hales
Some of local residents dropped by last Wednesday, when they saw BC Hydro clearing out an area in their gravel pit at Fort St John. They were told, “We’re making a parking lot for the protesters.” This was repeated to Ken Boon, who promptly drove over to the site. He saw the enlarged parking lot and fencing. The President of President of the Peace Valley Landowner Association (PVLA) was wearing a “Paddle for the Peace” hat, when he approached the security guards. Boon says they, “were pretty guarded in their answers.” This story is one of many illustrations of confrontations over The Site C Dam.
Opposition to the Site C Dam
In response to the province’s awarding the contract to build a road into the proposed site, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, told Desmog Canada, “I am more than willing to be arrested as long as that will contribute to stopping this project.”
“As President of the Landowner Association, I can’t advocate for any action like that, but I cannot speak for all the different groups and individuals out there. I find it hard to believe there would not be protests …. Hopefully anything like that would be peaceful. You have a project of this scale, without any social license … We’ve seen in the past, that is how change has to happen, through some form of civil action,” said Boon.
The PVLA is in the midst of legal actions against both the BC and Canadian governments, for approving the project.
They are supported by groups representing the vast majority of British Columbia’s inhabitants.
BC Hydro’s Poll
In response, BC Hydro touts a poll in which the majority of respondents approved of their actions.
Boon doesn’t think much of it, “I think most of us have a pretty good idea how polls work when they are run by a proponent of a project and that’s exactly what took place here. What you have is pollsters phoning up people across the province, who might not have a very good understanding of Site C. Most of what they knew, or learned about Site C, was told to them right there by the pollster, with questions that lead to the answer they want.”
His suspicion is confirmed by BC Hydro’s own press release, which indicate 25% of the respondents had not previously known of Site C.
“A poll like that is not very helpful for anybody in this province, and for the taxpayers, because it is just advocacy work by the proponents of a project. What’s more accurate is the fact the GVRD (Greater Vancouver Regional District), the Peace River Regional District, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs and now the BC Government Employees Union … after consulting on the site C and being informed by the facts, and not by pollsters with leading questions, they came to the determination that this project should be put on hold. That, to me, tells a lot better story than a poll.”
Get A Building Permit
A representative of the Peace River regional District recently summed up the government’s position by saying, “You don’t start building your basement until you get a building permit.”
“When there is this number of court challenges to Site C, I don’t think they have a valid building permit,” said Ken Boon.
The BC Treaty #8 First Nations is still waiting on the decisions for three court cases related to the infringement of their treaty rights.
“I can just imagine our lawyers rolling their eyes when they hear me describing our case,” said Boon.
The PRLA has two suits underway.
They are appealing a BC Supreme Court made that the Provincial Government does not have to listen to the economic recommendations of the joint Review Panel.
Boon believes the PVLA did very well in the recent Federal hearing in Vancouver. They were outgunned, 7 lawyers to two, but the Attorney General of Canada’s and BC Hydro’s lawyers “didn’t have a very compelling argument.” At one point the judge actually told the BC Hydro lawyer he could stop repeating his argument, as he was “flogging a dead horse, I get your point”! In his closing remarks, the judge reiterated that it is important for the province to get this project right. They are waiting for the judge to announce his decision.
“Twice now we’ve written a letter directly to Christy Clark. The first time Bill Bennet answered, so this last time we specifically asked Christy Clark to respond. Our request is, at the very least, have a two year delay while this project is assessed properly. It is the only option I see they have. They just have to do that. Failure to do that will turn into a real problem for this government down the road.”