A federal court judge will hear arguments Friday about whether to quash a lawsuit from four Northeast B.C. First Nations hoping to stop the Site C dam.
Federal government lawyers are seeking to strike the court action, according to Allison Russell, a lawyer with the firm representing the First Nations.
If the government is successful, the case could be thrown out without a hearing.
The lawsuit centres around whether Site C would violate First Nations treaty rights. Those rights include the ability of First Nations people to hunt, trap and fish — which were guaranteed by the Crown when Treaty 8 was signed 1899. The Doig River, Prophet River and West Moberly First Nations, along with the McLeod Lake Indian Band, brought the case.
It's one of seven Site C lawsuits winding through the court system.
The first to be heard was from the Peace Valley Landowners Association. Hearings on that case concluded April 23. The group also has a pending lawsuit in federal court.
West Moberly, McLeod Lake and Prophet River also filed a lawsuit in B.C. Supreme Court. Arguments in that case wrapped up late last month, and the parties are unclear when the judge will deliver his decision.
Several Alberta First Nations and the Blueberry River First Nation have also brought lawsuits against the dam.
Despite the legal barrage, Minister of Energy and Mines Bill Bennett and BC Hydro maintain construction will begin this summer.
Hearings for the federal First Nations case are scheduled for July, if the judge allows it to move forward.
It's possible the courts could grant an injunction to stop construction. Andrea Morison, coordinator of the Peace Valley Environment Association said the courts seem to be interested in moving cases through sooner rather than later.
"Hydro is pushing to get this addressed," she said. "It's probably the biggest infrastructure project in the country. I think the courts are aware that it does cost money to delay the project, so it would be nice if they'd get onto it."
The $8.8 billion dam would flood 5,340 hectares of land, and provide enough power for 450,000 homes. The first major Site C contract, to build a camp for workers on the dam, was awarded in April.