Ken Boon, President of the Peace Valley Landowner Association and his wife Arlene, on their farm in the Peace River Valley
Last week, the court challenge brought by the Peace Valley Landowner Association (PVLA) against the government of British Columbia, on it's approval to proceed with Site C dam, began. The PVLA felt good about how the hearing went. Following is a more detailed update.
The arguments inside the courtroom were very much about the question: what did the law require in this case? BC and BC Hydro argued for a broad discretion for the Ministers and a narrow definition of what the obligation to “consider” the Panel’s recommendations means. PVLA argued that the Ministers did not meet their legal obligations when they decided that the Panel’s recommendations (about the need for further assessment of cost, need and alternatives) were beyond what the Ministers were required to consider in the environmental assessment process. BC and BC Hydro said many times “there was nothing the Ministers could do with the recommendations from the Panel.” We argued that there were several ways in which the Ministers could have acted on the Panel’s recommendations (including ordering further assessment, or not issuing the environmental assessment certificate at all). We also said that if BC and BC Hydro were right--that the Ministers truly could not do anything with the recommendations that arose from the environmental assessment process--then that would render the process meaningless. Our case is based upon the premise that the provisions in the Environmental Assessment Act are there to ensure that the process is not meaningless. Mr. Justice Sewell reserved his decision. I won’t speculate on when we can expect it. I will say that decisions can take several months sometimes, but that the Judge is attentive to the urgency with which BC Hydro wishes to begin construction.