Justin Trudeau’s government has authorized its first set of Site C permits, allowing construction to continue on the controversial $8.8 billion project.
Critics of the dam say the approval quashes any hopes they had of the new government delaying or further reviewing Site C.
“Up until now, the Trudeau government had not issued a permit on this project,” Ken Boon, a Peace Valley farmer and opponent of the project said in an interview.
The permits allow BC Hydro to block the flow of the Peace River and disrupt fisheries—activities which require federal approval. The initial permits needed for construction were issued under Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The B.C. government approved Site C in Dec. 2014.
“It’s very disappointing,” Boon said. “There was somewhat of a delay happening under the Trudeau government as far as issuing these permits, and we took that as a positive sign that they were looking at this more seriously.”
Boon said the new permits amount to a stamp of approval from the new government, which promised to renew a “nation-to-nation” relationship between Ottawa and First Nations.
The West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations continue to challenge the project in court, saying flooding the Peace River Valley will disrupt their ability to exercise Treaty rights. The two nations will be in federal court in Montreal this September.
“This looks like they’re breaking their promises to First Nations people on a renewed relationship. It is very disappointing,” Boon said.
Site C will generate around 1,100 megawatts of electricity and flood 83 kilometres of the Peace River Valley.
—this is a developing story that will be updated as information becomes available.