Earlier this year, geotechnical crews descended on Ken and Arlene Boon’s farm at Bear Flat to drill dozens of test holes in preparation of realigning a portion of Highway 29 that will be inundated by the Site C reservoir.
One of those holes is mere metres from the Boons kitchen, and marks the centre line of the proposed highway realignment. Over the last week, the Boons, along with dozens of other supporters, have purchased and hammered roughly 150 yellow stakes into the ground around that test hole in a show of solidarity that their fight against the controversial $8.8-billion hydroelectric project is not yet over. It’s invited people from the region, across B.C., and as far away as Havana, Cuba, to buy a stake in support of West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations’ numerous legal fights against the project.
It’s just the beginning of the campaign, Ken Boon says, to show wide range of solidarity between impacted landowners, First Nations, and other Peace Region residents and British Columbians.
“It’s very symbolic, quite visible, and you could tell when we did it there was something about pounding a stake on the highway realignment that made them feel good about themselves,” said Boon.
“They (the First Nations) obviously are in a big legal battle for all of us.”
BC Hydro had wanted buyout agreements in place with eight landowners on Bear Flat by the end of October, however, the Boons have questioned Hydro’s timeline to purchase the land.
“It’s hard to get into details,” Boon said of the negotiations.
“There are a lot of issues we keep bumping into,” including how long they will get to stay in their home after being bought out or expropriated, he said. It has been previously reported Hydro wants the landowners off the land by Christmas, even though road realignment work isn’t slated to start until sometime next year.
“The timeframe made no sense to us. There’s really no reason why we have to get kicked out of this house by Christmas when you look at their own timeframe,” Boon said.
“Essentially, they are acknowledging that and seem to be open to idea that the landowners that are living in houses on the realignment may be able to stay to early summer or late spring.
“We’ll see where that goes,” he said.
Archeological digs continue on the property, Boon said, and the teams there are more than willing to show them what they are finding.
“They are still finding lots (of artifacts),” Arlene Boon said. “When they do find something, they have expand their dig site.”
Added Ken: “Essentially, this is a recovery program now, a recovery program with a budget. They’re just scratching the surface of what is here. The rest will be lost to road construction and the reservoir for all time.”