Nlaka'pamux Nation Tribal Council, Okanagan Nation Alliance, Upper Nicola Indian Band

April 14, 2009 14:33 ET

Uncertainty for Interior to Lower Mainland Transmission Line Project

BC Government Creates Uncertainty for the Interior to Lower Mainland Transmission Line Project

Attention: Assignment Editor, Business/Financial Editor, Energy Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor VANCOUVER, BC, PRESS RELEASE--(Marketwire - April 14, 2009) - The BC Government and its Crown corporations are pushing ahead with the environmental assessment of the controversial Interior to Lower Mainland transmission line project (ILM Project), despite a recent court decision that requires the Government to go back and consult with First Nations about whether the ILM Project is the correct choice. The Nlaka'pamux Nation Tribal Council, Okanagan Nation Alliance and Upper Nicola Band are calling on the Government to honour the court decision and suspend the environmental assessment.

On February 18, 2009 the BC Court of Appeal issued a landmark ruling that suspended the certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) issued by the BC Utilities Commission for the ILM Project. The Court concluded that the BCUC had failed to ensure that the Government and BC Hydro had consulted with First Nations prior to issuing the CPCN, including consultation around the selection of the ILM Project as the best choice for meeting a projected increase in Lower Mainland electricity demand. Since that decision, the NNTC, ONA and UNB have asked the Government and their Crown corporations to suspend the environmental assessment, so that meaningful consultations on whether the project is needed could occur. The Government and BC Hydro / British Columbia Transmission Corporation have refused to suspend the review.

"The Government is not respecting the obvious implications of the Court's decision. All we're asking for is time for meaningful consultation, as ordered by the Court of Appeal, to take place before the Government issues more permits. The Government is refusing," said Chief Bob Pasco, Chair of the Nlaka'pamux Nation Tribal Council. "I had hoped we were entering an era of recognition and new ways of doing things. Instead, the Government, as it has done so many times before, is ignoring a court decision in favour of Aboriginal Title and Rights," he added.

Chief Tim Manuel of the Upper Nicola Band further stated that "the Courts of this country have been very clear in their view that Aboriginal Title and Rights must be dealt with in an honourable and meaningful way prior to any infringement. In this case the Government of British Columbia and its crown corporations continue to take advantage of massive infringements while ignoring our Title and Rights. The Government is playing with fire - they say this project is a critical part of meeting Vancouver's future energy needs. Yet, they are not taking the steps that are legally necessary to ensure certainty for BC taxpayers and BC Hydro rate prayers."

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs and a member of the First Nations Leadership Council, said this is a good illustration of the economic uncertainty caused when Government refuses to recognize Aboriginal Title and Rights. "If the proposed Recognition and Reconciliation Act were in place we would never be in this situation. The First Nations and the Province need to agree on a process of shared decision-making that ensures their respective interests are addressed in a timely, respectful, and clear fashion. Instead, it is now more than likely that the BC Government and BC Hydro will have to start all over again - this time working with First Nations from the beginning - to find a way to address the Lower Mainland's future energy needs", stated Grand Chief Phillip. "Millions of public dollars, and years of effort may go wasted. This all can be avoided. However, given the lack of action from the BC Government and BC Hydro I am not holding my breath", he added.

For a copy of the decision: /For further information: Chief Bob Pasco, Chairman, NNTC: (cell) (250) 371-0775; Chief Tim Manuel, Upper Nicola Band: (cell) (250) 378-1986; Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Okanagan Nation Alliance: (250) 490-5314

Contact Information

  • Bob Pasco and Tim Manuel, Chiefs, Nlaka'pamux Nation Tribal Council, Okanagan Nation Alliance, Upper Nicola Indian Band
    Primary Phone: 250-371-0775
    Secondary Phone: 250-378-1986