For Immediate Release
PVLA APPEALS BC SUPREME COURT RULING ON SITE C & STRONGLY ENDORSES BC AUDITOR GENERAL PERFORMANCE AUDIT OF SITE C
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA – Today, the Peace Valley Landowner Association (PVLA) announced its appeal of the BC Supreme Court ruling dismissing its court challenge of the environmental assessment certificate for Site C dam.
PVLA’s case was based on the requirement that Ministers “must consider the recommendations” made by the Joint Review Panel. While it is well recognized at law that a Minister’s decision to issue an environmental assessment certificate is discretionary and political, i.e., Ministers may choose to reject Panel recommendations, it is PVLA’s view that it is nevertheless unlawful for Ministers to refuse to consider the Joint Review Panel’s recommendations.
Judge Sewell in his BC Supreme Court decision found that even if the BC Minister failed to consider the Joint Review Panel’s economic recommendations (need, cost and alternatives to Site C) as required by legislation, the ministerial decision can still be upheld as reasonable (para. 90 of the judgment).
In PVLA’s view, the finding of the court that the failure of a Minister to meet mandatory legislative requirements to consider the outcome of independent environmental assessment may be cured by a determination that a decision is ‘reasonable overall’ is wrong at law. Such a finding undermines the environmental assessment process not only for the certificate issued for the Site C dam, but also for the environmental assessment process in British Columbia as a whole.
Since the Site C dam announcement last December, new information reinforces PVLA’s urgent call for a 2 year moratorium as well as an independent review of Site C by the BC Utilities Commission and the Agricultural Land Commission.
BC Auditor General Carol Bellringer has announced that Site C had been added to the Performance Audit Coverage Plan for 2016/2017 and 2017/2018.
Ken Boon, President of the PVLA, notes:
If the court’s decision in the PVLA case stands, BC ministers will be able to get away with not following environmental assessment legislation on the basis that the ends justify the means. That is just plain wrong. Why bother conducting an environmental assessment, if the Minister can turn a blind eye and not consider its recommendations?
PVLA strongly endorses the decision of BC Auditor General Carol Bellringer to add Site C to the Performance Audit Coverage Plan. All British Columbians will welcome the performance audit of Site C by Bellringer. This is yet another important reason for placing an immediate 2 year moratorium on Site C.