Claiming B.C. Hydro has already spent a third of a billion dollars laying the groundwork for the third dam on the Peace River, reporter Justine Hunter says the Crown Corporation wants to start by mid-January to clear the way for the project it’s been trying to get built for about three and half decades.
However, the story argues that two major and related hurdles still stand in the way of the currently projected $8 billion dam.
First, there’s the opposition by local area First Nations and it’s widely anticipated they will file a legal challenge to the flooding of their traditional Peace Valley territories southwest of Fort St. John.
The Globe claims Chief Roland Willson of the West Moberly First Nations has his legal team working on separate judicial review applications for the environmental certificate issued by the federal and provincial governments.
Chief Willson says work on the project won’t happen on his community lands and the newspaper quotes him as saying, “We don’t have the human or financial capacity to deal with Site C. We’re not going to be able process their applications. They are going to have to wait.”
Chief Willson adds, “And if they start without their permits, the only recourse is to file an injunction.”
Meantime, the provincial cabinet decision on the project, the second major hurdle cited by the story, is slated to come next month while the debate continues.
The Globe says the government’s reputation for sound fiscal management could be at stake given the massive project cost and the fact returns will likely not come back until long after most of the current MLAs have left office.
Thus the decision is not seen as a slam dunk and the Globe says even Energy Minister Bill Bennett wants to know whether the private sector can provide the power for less.
He’s quoted as saying, “It will be a long and difficult discussion became everybody wants certainty.”
With files from The Globe and Mail