|Open letter: UBCIC Rejects "Cooperative" Environmental Assessment of Proposed Site C
October 21, 2011
Honourable John Duncan, Minister
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development
Honourable Peter Kent
Minister of the Environment
Honourable Joe Oliver
Minister of Natural Resources
Premier Christy Clark
Government of British Columbia
Honourable Terry Lake
Minister of the Environment (BC)
Honourable Rich Coleman
Minister of Energy and Mines
Open letter: UBCIC Rejects “Cooperative” Environmental Assessment of Proposed Site C
Dear Ministers and Premier Clark,
We are writing in response to the disappointing announcement by the Governments of British Columbia and Canada of their intent to conduct a “Cooperative Environmental Assessment” for the proposed Site C hydroelectric project, in a drastically short timeframe. Once again, we loudly call for a federal full panel review of the proposed Site C Hydroelectric Dam, in accordance with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and including meaningful consultation and accommodation of all Treaty 8 First Nations.
The proposed 1100MW Site C project is immense in scale and stands to have drastic environmental, social, and economic impacts that will most certainly infringe on the constitutionally protected Title and Rights, and Treaty Rights of Treaty 8 First Nations, and greatly impact ratepayers and the public as well. In fact, we understand that this proposed project is the largest and costliest project being considered by BC Hydro in its ongoing electricity planning process, which most certainly requires a full review. Your recently released “Draft Agreement for the Conduct of a Cooperative Environmental Assessment” for the proposed Site C project, considers a process less than three years in length; this is completely unacceptable given that it is a full two years less than environmental assessments recently completed for similar hydroelectric projects in eastern Canada.
We advise you that without any hesitation, the UBCIC Chiefs Council fully supports Treaty 8 First Nations in ensuring that their Aboriginal and Treaty Rights are honoured and preserved. As we have advised, without significant changes that address First Nations’ concerns, any new harmonized process will be a non-starter. Proceeding with this unilaterally-imposed approach will most certainly destabilize productive relations with First Nations. We urge you to truly work cooperatively with Treaty 8 First Nations, and carry out a full environmental assessment of the proposed Site C project.
On behalf of the UNION OF BC INDIAN CHIEFS
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip
Chief Robert Chamberlin
Chief Marilyn Baptiste
Dr. James Anaya, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous People
Honourable Mary Polak, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation
Elaine Feldman, President, Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency
Cheryl Wenezenki-Yolland, Associate Deputy Minister, BC Environmental Assessment Office
Treaty 8 First Nations
First Nations Energy and Mining Council
First Nations Summit
BC Assembly of First Nations
UBCIC Chiefs Council
UBCIC is a NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.