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First Nations stand firm on Site C

Site C Public Hearings

First Nations and environmental groups shrugged off a bristling wind and driving snow to welcome the third day of public hearings on BC Hydro's Site C dam proposal with a rally on Wednesday.

More than 50 people huddled around a makeshift tent just outside the Pomeroy Hotel, carrying flags and waving placards declaring the dam to be a "catastrophic energy project."

Liz Logan, tribal chief of the Treaty 8 Tribal Association said four of her member nations - Doig, Halfway River, Prophet River and West Moberly - now stand opposed to Site C.

"This is the third go around for us," said Logan. "These four nations did a door-to-door info package and a survey. We got 85 per cent saying no to Site C. That is the mandate we are working from. Even though you see in the papers that some nations are supposedly negotiating impact benefit agreements, our four nations are not talking to Hydro about any of that.

"Our treaty rights are not for sale," she said.

Since Monday, opponents to the $7.9 billion project have lined up one after another to challenge Hydro's need for the dam, and its potential alternatives.

Hydro says it needs to build Site C to meet a 40 per cent jump in energy use over the next 20 years, with British Columbia's population expected to grow by more than a million people in that time.

An independent, three-member review panel has also been prodding Hydro's energy forecasts, the costs of the project and Hydro's plan to pay for it, and the results of Hydro's many conservation and efficiency programs.

Andrea Morison, coordinator for the Peace Valley Environmental Association, said that, only two days into the hearings, the panel has heard plenty of evidence to reject the dam.

"We've known all along this dam is a bad idea, and we've known the reasons why," said Morison. "Each day as these hearings proceed, can see our supporters and our experts informing the panel with bulletproof arguments why, for so many reasons, this dam should not go ahead."

Hearings continue until Dec. 19, before resuming in January.