Dam opponents have final shot at stopping project this spring

Opponents of the Site C dam, including protest campers served an injunction last Tuesday, say work on the project should stop until rulings on four Site C court cases are handed down. 

That final battle will likely happen sometime this spring.

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The Peace Valley Landowner Association (PVLA) will have an appeal heard in April, while First Nations plaintiffs expect to be in court sometime this spring, though no court dates have been set.

A notice of civil claim against eight campers at the historic Rocky Mountain Fort site, filed Tuesday, lays out the history of legal challenges against Site C. So far, none have stuck.

The defendants are accused of blocking construction. BC Hydro is seeking to have them removed, as well as punitive damages and costs. A response to the claim must be filed in 21 days, meaning it will be at least a month before a ruling on whether the camp stays or goes.

Little luck with courts

The PVLA launched the first challenge in B.C. Supreme Court in October 2014, aimed at quashing the project's environmental assessment certificate. The next month, the association filed another lawsuit, against the federal government's Order-in-Council to approve Site C despite its "significant adverse environmental effects."

The court dismissed the first challenge last July, concluding the provincial cabinet's decision to issue the certificate was reasonable. The PVLA appealed and will be in court April 4 and 5. The federal challenge was tossed in August on similar grounds, and will not be appealed.

The West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations filed their own lawsuits against the certificate and Order-in-Council, claiming the Crown failed to adequately consult them. Those lawsuits were dismissed this summer, though the First Nations have appealed both decisions.

The nations filed another court action in August, after work began on Site C, asking a judge to review 36 federal and provincial permits issued for the project. Their request for an injunction was thrown out, however, after they failed to prove they would suffer "irreparable harm without the injunction," while BC Hydro "would suffer irreparable harm if the injunction was granted." The judicial review of the permits has not concluded.

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