By Jorge Barrera with video from Nation to Nation
APTN National News
Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq says she will make a final decision on a controversial and massive dam project planned for British Columbia by late next month.
Aglukkaq plans to make a final decision on whether the massive $8 billion project to add a third dam to the Peace River should go ahead by Oct. 22, according to a Sept. 19 letter the minister wrote to West Moberly First Nations Chief Roland Wilson.
“I am confident that the views and information that have been gathered provide a strong basis for well informed decisions with respect to the environmental effects of the project, impacts on existing and potential Aboriginal and Treaty rights and whether the project should proceed,” wrote Aglukkaq.
The minister wrote the letter in a response to Wilson who was seeking a meeting with Aglukkaq to lobby against the project, known as the Site C Dam.
Aglukkaq responded saying she could not meet with Wilson or other impacted parties to the project because it could undermine her impartiality.
“It would not be appropriate for me to discuss any matter relating to the project with an interested party to ensure fairness to all parties,” wrote Aglukkaq.
Wilson, along with Fort Nelson First Nation Chief Liz Logan and Union of BC Indian Chiefs president Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, held a press conference in Ottawa Wednesday calling on the federal government to kill the project. Assembly of First Nations interim National Chief Ghislain Picard also appeared at the press conference in support.
“This dam just doesn’t make sense: legally, environmentally, or economically,” said Wilson. “It is a very stupid idea.”
Phillip said the project has already been around since the 1970s and faced rejection twice. He said Treaty 8 lands in B.C. have been “totally devastated by the oil and gas industry.” Phillip said there are 30,000 gas wells spread throughout the territory, with plans for 80,000 more.
“Enough is enough,” said Phillip. “Elders have mandated Treaty 8 chiefs to defend their homeland by any means.”
The massive project, which would generate about 1,035 megawatts of power. It would also flood 9,000 hectares of “culturally significant lands, prime agricultural land and wildlife habitat,” say the Treaty 8 chiefs.
The hydro dam project would create a reservoir 83 kilometres long.
Treaty 8 was signed in 1899.