Site C opponents dug in on the south bank of the Peace River say they're not going anywhere, despite an eviction notice from BC Hydro.
A dozen people opposed to the $8.8-billion dam have been living in shifts at the historic Rocky Mountain Fort since mid-December. The camp is set up on the site of an 18th century fur trade fort, upstream from the confluence of the Peace and Moberly Rivers.
A charter helicopter lifted a survival trailer with a wood stove and bunk house to the site in late December. The next day, Hydro posted notice that the area would be cleared for logging.
Dam opponent Ken Boon, who is at the site, told Alaska Highway News that a Treaty 8 member turned back a tree felling machine early Monday afternoon.
Protesters now plan to man the camp around the clock.
In early 2016, contractors are expected to clear 620 hectares of trees and vegetation from the south bank. Contractors built a temporary bridge across the Moberly River in late December, giving crews access to the fort.
Helen Knott spent New Year's Eve at the camp with two youth from the Halfway and Blueberry River First Nations, and told the Alaska Highway News more people are coming.
"We've had interest from other individuals in other parts of B.C. in coming up," said Knott, a 28-year-old mother and social worker. "We have a schedule going where we're co-ordinating individuals to be out there at all times, manning the camp."
Knott, whose family is from the Prophet River First Nation, said she and her overnight party got lucky, with relatively balmy lows of -15 C.
She said watching the construction from the river bank is "really depressing."
"No matter how hard we fight, they keep pushing through," she said. "It hurts. It's really saddening to stand there and see everything taken down."
BC Hydro did not respond to requests for comment, so details about the eviction notice are
Hydro stated it would transport the contents of the camp to the Fort St. John RCMP detachment "for safe keeping," according to a photo of the notice posted on social media. The deadline for removal was set for 10 a.m. Dec. 31, which Hydro could not confirm.
The protesters believe Hydro should not be working on the dam until First Nations and landowner lawsuits against the project are resolved. They’re also calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government to review the project.
Knott, who plans to return to the fort, said protesters were there for the long haul.
“This is something that's really important to us and it really feels like BC Hydro is set on steamrolling over (us),” she said. “That's not something we're willing to just let happen.”