The B.C. government is expected to announce its decision Tuesday on whether it will proceed with a third hydroelectric dam on the Peace River.
Most recently estimated at $8.5 billion, the Site C dam would be one of the most expensive construction projects in B.C. history. A joint federal-provincial environmental review gave the project the green light in May, but the panelists were unconvinced that current energy demands mean it should begin construction in 2015.
The panel also highlighted the unavoidable impacts to aboriginal hunting and trapping territories in the Peace River valley near Hudson’s Hope. Aboriginal people in the Peace region say Treaty 8 guarantees them the right to hunt, trap and fish as they did before the treaty was signed in 1899.
Farmers in the Peace Valley Landowner Association are poised to go to court in an effort to stop the project, which would flood 83 km of river bottom land downstream of the two existing hydro dams on the Peace.
Hudson’s Hope Mayor Gwen Johansson has also been outspoken against Site C. She has joined NDP leader John Horgan in calling for the project to be reviewed by the B.C. Utilities Commission to determine if the power is needed before committing to construction.
Industry groups representing independent power have also lobbied the government to consider alternatives to the dam.