Group says Site C approval will have 'grave consequences' for NDP

By Vanessa Ybarra

Environmentalists and landowners, however, argued the evidence they brought to a rushed British Columbia Utilities Commission review was ignored and looked on Monday's announcement as a betrayal. "With those findings, the only responsible choice was to immediately stop destroying the Peace River valley".

"Today, Site C is no longer simply a B.C. Liberal boondoggle - it has now become the B.C. NDP's project".

Furious lobbying from proponents and opponents of the third dam on the Fraser River has continued since The B.C. Utilities Commission released its independent report on the project November 1, ordered by Horgan to fulfil a promise he has repeated many times since becoming NDP leader.

"Megaproject mismanagement by the old government has left a bad situation", said Premier John Horgan.

Moving forward with Site C is a "major setback to reconciliation", Assembly of First Nations national chief Perry Bellegarde said in a statement, adding that the "next step will be legal challenges".

"We know this decision is not what some First Nations wanted". - Peace Valley campaigner Galen Armstrong of the Sierra Club in B.C.

"The previous government left those questions unanswered".

Had the NDP government chose to cancel Site C, it would have taken on the project's $3.9 billion in debt, made up of $2.1 billion already spent and another $1.8 billion in remediation costs.

"We have to accept the situation as we find it, not how we wish it to be", said Horgan.

However, Litwin said that "from the business community's perspective, this is a huge win", in terms of being an infrastructure investment that will, despite short-term pain, deliver long-term gains in less costly electricity.

Horgan will likely face considerable backlash from environmental groups and certain supporters for betraying what they thought was an election promise to cancel the dam.

And in the short term, for "the over 2,000 men and women working on that project, it is a great Christmas gift knowing they will have jobs in 2018", said Chris Gardner, president of the Independent Contractors and Business Association of B.C.

The project, which will now cost an estimated $10.7 billion, has been vigorously fought by both nations, whose traditional territory will be flooded by the Site C reservoir.

"All of the issues that came out (in the utilities commission review) and all the positions were really valid", said Wayne Peppard, representative for the Allied Hydro Council. "Not just the requirement for consultation and accommodation - which we always hear about when we're talking about resource projects - but they have entrenched constitutional rights to practice hunting and fishing as before".

Under Horgan the B.C. government made a commitment to embrace and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which calls for "free, prior and informed" consent.



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