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After injunction to remove camp, Site C opponents back in court

Four lawsuits aimed at stopping $8.8 billion dam remain
camp
The Site C construction camp. Peace Valley Landowners hope an upcoming legal challenge in the BC Court of Appeal will delay or block the controversial hydroelectric project.

Site C opponents are back in court next week on an appeal to block the $8.8 billion hydroelectric dam—one of four remaining legal challenges against the controversial project. 

The BC Court of Appeal will hear arguments from the Peace Valley Landowner Association (PVLA) and BC Hydro on April 4 and 5. 

The lawsuit is before the court one month after a judge granted an injunction to clear a protest camp that stood in the way of construction on the Peace River for 62 days.  

In the latest case, the PVLA is seeking a review of a July 2015 BC Supreme Court decision on the province's move to grant the dam an environmental assessment certificate. The court found the provincial government was within its rights to approve Site C, despite a Joint Review Panel finding that the dam would cause significant environmental impacts. 

PVLA President Ken Boon, whose land will be partially flooded if the dam proceeds, said he is confident going into Monday's hearing.  

"I've kind of given up guessing what the courts are going to do, but I feel we have a very strong case," he said. "We'll see how it goes when it's all laid out by the opposing legal teams."

The PVLA represents landowners whose properties will be flooded by the Site C reservoir or otherwise impacted by dam construction.  

The hearing will be held at the Vancouver courthouse, where a rally against the dam is planned for April 5.  

Next week's appeal is the last legal challenge from the PVLA, which had another case in federal court dismissed last August. 

Three other lawsuits from the West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations also have a chance at delaying the project—including a judicial review of 36 construction permits issued for the dam. 

The nations are also appealing two earlier rulings which found BC Hydro's aboriginal consultation efforts were "in good faith and extensive," according to a summary of Site C litigation filed with BC Hydro's protest camp injunction. 

Boon hoped that with construction in the valley ongoing, the court will reach a decision soon. 

"Obviously the courts are more than willing to do injunctions pretty quick, so I'd like to see the courts make a decision on a timely basis on this, of course," he said.  

"We're guardedly optimistic that the judge will listen to the two sides and rule accordingly. I feel we have a very strong case. So we'll see."  

reporter@dcdn.ca 

Notice of Civil Claim against Site C protest camp by Jonny Wakefield