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Site C hearings begin next month

But those wishing to comment will need to register soon


Public hearings on the Site C hydroelectric dam have been announced, and will begin in Fort St. John in December.

On Thursday, the Federal Joint Review Panel reviewing the project announced it will launch hearings Dec. 9 in Fort St. John, and have tentatively scheduled two meetings in Dawson Creek in early January.

Other visits scheduled throughout December and January include Hudson's Hope, Prince George, Chetwynd and Peace River.

The panel will hold three types of hearings during this process. They have been split into general sessions, where anyone who registers can present their views on the project and its potential effects; topic-specific sessions for experts with specialized knowledge to present information that addresses BC Hydro's environmental assessment; and community sessions with select First Nation communities.

The first Dawson Creek hearing is a general session scheduled for January 7 from 1 to 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

A second meeting has been set for 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. the next day, and is intended especially for the M√Čtis community.

Locations for these hearings have not yet been announced, and dates are subject to change.

Participants must register for all hearing sessions. Those interested in the general and community hearings can make oral or written submissions, or both.

For those interested in topic-specific hearings, oral presentations must also come with a written submission, the panel says. Written submissions must be filed by Nov. 25.

The environmental assessment process for Site C began in August and is expected to wrap up next spring.

Following the hearings, the panel will submit a report to the federal Minister of the Environment and the executive director of the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office, according to a release.

The federal government will make a decision on the project within six months of receiving the panel's report.

Hydro says it needs to build Site C to meet a 40 per cent increase in electricity demand over the next 20 years, as the province's population is projected to jump by a million people. If built, Site C would be the third dam along the Peace River.

To register, or file a submission, call Courtney Trevis at 613-960-0286, toll free at 1-866-582-1884, or email SiteCReview@ceaa-acee.gc.ca. Those interested can also contact Brian Murphy at 250-387-2402 or brian.murphy@gov.bc.ca.