FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — Peace Valley residents Ken and Arlene Boon, who were cc’ed on Premier Christy Clark’s letter to NDP leader John Horgan earlier this week, have written back to the Premier saying they are confused about some of the points in her letter.
Ken Boon said that he and his wife are thankful that Clark has asked Hydro to extend their lease until July 15th, but they claim that the Premier has gotten several of the details in her letter wrong, especially the issue about his and the Meek family’s homes. “It’s quite confusing to us what she’s writing about,” said Boon. “She seems to be going into the weeds on the details for some reason of the logistics and timing of relocating these homes, and a lot of it’s just not true.”
Boon explained that he and his wife have been dealing with BC Hydro’s land agents both at their home in Bear Flats and through their appropriation lawyer for some time now. Boon says that not only is BC Hydro is aware that the couple do not want their home moved, but that officials have been to their property several times to deal with logistics such as moving power lines and drilling a new well.
The Boons also refuted the Premier’s and BC Hydro CEO Jessica McDonald’s claims that any delay in realigning Highway 29 would result in a 1-year delay in Site C construction, costing $630 million. The Boons cite arguments made by West Moberly First Nation Chief Roland Willson and Prophet River First Nation Chief Lynette Tsakoza in their letter to Clark on June 7th. BC Hydro claims that Highway 29 needs to be realigned before the Peace River is diverted through tunnels in the riverbank to allow for dam construction to continue. However, in their letter, the two First Nations chiefs claim that not only could the realignment be completed by September 2019 even with a one-year delay, but that a one-year delay would not be needed even if the highway construction is not completed. The First Nations have stated that their opposition to the current realignment of Highway 29 is due to it passing directly over a First Nations gravesite and sacred sweat lodge.
In their letter to Clark, the Boons also stated that they are concerned that the wording of the Premier’s latest letter could lead to resentment against them and the Meeks due to BC Hydro’s efforts to accommodate them possibly delaying construction. “We do not deserve to be made scapegoats for that,” the Boons’ letter states. “We have no quarrel with any project that is advanced if it is truly justified and for the greater good. We could understand the need to expropriate our lands and homes if that was clearly shown. That has most definitely not been the case with the Site C dam.” A full copy of the Boons’ letter can be found below:
Willson said that BC Hydro could in fact go with another option to realign Highway 29 that was proposed and rejected at a minimal increased cost, and would have fewer negative impacts. He told Energeticcity.ca that the First Nations are simply asking BC Hydro and the provincial government about exploring an alternative that would not only not result in the destruction of two families’ homes and two First Nations archeological sites, but would also allow workers on Site C to keep their jobs.
Willson added that he and Tsakoza have yet to receive a response from the Premier to their letter.