FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — The West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations have filed a case in BC Supreme Court alleging that BC Hydro’s three dams on the Peace River infringe on their constitutional treaty rights.
In their claims, the two First Nations are seeking court declarations that approvals issued for Site C are “unconstitutional, void, and of no force and effect”, as well as injunctions prohibiting any further approvals by the government or any further construction by BC Hydro.
The plaintiffs’ filing states, “The cumulative impact of the Bennett, Peace Canyon, and Site C Dams is to turn the Peace River into a series of reservoirs, destroying the unique cultural and ecological character of the Peace, severing the physical, practical, cultural and spiritual connection the Prophet have with the Peace, and infringing [West Moberly and Prophet’s] Treaty Rights.”
Earlier this month, the two First Nations say BC Hydro refused their requests to voluntarily suspend work and defer the signing of major contracts. The First Nations say they intend to have an interim injunction application heard in the early Spring, and will be asking the court to assign a case management judge to ensure their rights aren’t prejudiced by unnecessary delays. They also say they intend to apply for the disclosure of documents which to-date have been redacted or withheld from the public.
“These documents might also explain how BC Hydro’s estimated cost of completing the project could have jumped by $2.4 billion in just two months,” said Chief Lynette Tsakoza of the Prophet River First Nation. “We’re not just asking the court to save the Peace River valley, but to save British Columbians billions of dollars by scrapping this ill-conceived, outmoded, and unneeded boondoggle unravelling in plain sight.”
The two First Nations also announced today that they have assembled a new legal team headed by Reidar Mogerman of Camp Fiorante Matthews Mogerman. The firm has been involved in several high-profile legal cases recently, including a class-action lawsuit against Volkswagen. The team also includes several other lawyers who specialize in environmental and aboriginal law.
“We need more information about the project’s schedule, budget, and ongoing geotechnical challenges to accurately estimate the implications of suspending construction until our Treaty infringement claims are decided at trial,” said Chief Roland Willson of the West Moberly First Nations. “We are fighting for the land and the preservation of the Dunne-za way of life. But we are also fighting for values all British Columbians share, like transparency and economic prudence.”
The two First Nations’ notices of civil claim can be read in their entirety at the following links: https://www.scribd.com/document/369277049/2018-01-15-Nocc-of-West-Moberly-Filed-00138091xe1c2e