The British Columbia Supreme Court issued its ruling Aug. 8, 2015, on the application brought by West Moberly First Nations and Prophet River First Nation to stop construction on the Site C dam pending the outcome of a judicial review of the construction permits.
“We went to court to protect our old growth trees, eagle nests, beaver dams and our traditional way of life”, said Chief Roland Willson of West Moberly First Nations. “As a result, BC Hydro will not be destroying the forests or removing eagle nests and beaver dams in the Moberly River valley. We asked for those areas to be protected”.
During the court hearing, BC Hydro conceded that it would not act on any of the permits in the Moberly River valley, given the First Nations’ concern around the old growth areas. In declining to issue the injunction, the Court noted that BC Hydro’s commitment would address the concerns of the First Nations regarding old growth given that it would spare most of the old and near-old growth from clearing.
Prophet River Chief Lynette Tsakoza believes that BC Hydro’s commitment to spare the Moberly River valley from construction until the outcome of the court case is significant. “It is clear recognition of the unique ecological significance of the valley. We are looking forward to having our day in court to address the legality of the construction permits – an issue that the Court today acknowledged is a ‘serious issue’ to be heard.”
The First Nations maintain that consultation on the permits was inadequate, an issue to be fully argued in November at the hearing of the judicial review.