British Columbia

Ruling on Site C protest camp expected today

A judge is expected to rule this morning on whether people protesting the Site C dam project near Fort St. John will be removed from their camp.

Site C protesters, who set up the camp in late December, say they don’t intend to break any laws

Protesters have camped out near the Site C dam project in northern B.C since December 31, 2015 (Yvonne Tupper)

A judge is expected to rule this morning on whether people protesting Site C dam projects will be removed from the camp.

BC Hydro argued in court last week that the actions of a group of Peace Valley farmers and local First Nations are illegal and could cost the utility company millions.

Lawyers for the utility company said the protesters set up camp in late December and have been preventing workers from clearing the area for construction.

But a defendant in the court case says he and fellow protesters simply want their voices heard and they don't intend to break any laws.

"We are all law-abiding citizens who have strong feelings and frustration that here hasn't been any true forum where we can make our case," said Ken Boon, one of the defendants named in the injunction application.

Boon says the protest started from the frustration some people felt about government's lack of action on the project's environmental impact.

Recommendations ignored

A federal-provincial joint panel released its findings on the projected environmental impact of the dam in May 2014, but Boon says the government did not follow all the recommendations.

"There were some very clear recommendations from the panel, and both the provincial and federal governments totally ignored those very key recommendations, mainly to send it to the BCUC" said Boon.

The British Columbia Utilities Commission is an independent regulatory body that looks at the province's energy facilities.

A handful of protesters rally outside B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver in opposition to BC Hydro's controversial Site C project. (CBC)

Boon says the province should take the money slated for Site C and instead, create jobs and electricity with a number of smaller projects that would result in less environmental damage.

'If it were simply a matter of creating jobs, there are lot better ways you can create jobs with $9 billion without the harms that Site C would cause," said Boon.

Opponents have argued that the nearly $9 billion dam will have a devastating impact on the area because it will flood agricultural land, First Nations archeological sites, and hunting and fishing areas.

To listen to the full interview, click the link labelled: Protester defends Site C camp ahead of expected ruling.

With files from Canadian Press


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