West Moberly, Prophet River First Nations to appeal Site C water licences

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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — The West Moberly First Nations and Prophet River First Nation announced yesterday that they have filed an appeal of the main water licences for the Site C Project with the Environmental Appeal Board.

A press release sent out on behalf of the First Nations states the Deputy Comptroller of Water Rights conducted a written hearing process for the licences, which were issued on February 26.

Those licences authorize the diversion and storage of water behind the proposed Site C dam, including the creation of an 83 kilometre-long reservoir.

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West Moberly First Nation’s Chief Roland Willson says Site C is an infringement of their treaty, and all of their concerns were either ‘dismissed or diminished.’

“We have serious concerns about the effects of the flooding on groundwater, erosion, the impacts on Treaty rights, fish and wildlife habitat and safety,” Chief Willson said. “There was there no urgency to issue these approvals, given that none of the power from Site C is needed at all.”

The First Nations have also requested that they be involved in ongoing management and mitigation of the impacts of Site C through a direct decision-making role in BC Hydro’s Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program, or a program similar to it.

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The Program carries out research and supporting recovery efforts to deal with the severe environmental effects of BC’s hydroelectric dams. It is run by BC Hydro — with limited input from First Nations.

“The Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program doesn’t reflect the needs and interests of the First Nations people who are most affected by hydroelectric development,” said Prophet River Chief Lynette Tsakoza.

“We asked to be more directly involved in the program for Site C, but that request was ignored.”

As the Environmental Appeal Board is an independent tribunal, it hears appeals on decisions under various environmental legislation in British Columbia.

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No date has been set for a hearing.

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