Back in August, BC Hydro applied for a "Licence of Occupation" to log crown land above the Site C dam - land that had been previously slated for provincial park status.
The only public notice I could find about it was in the Alaska Highway News - and in woodbusiness.ca, which noted that the government ad in the back of Alaska Highway News did not even mention Site C.
I ran into the deadline for public input quite by accident in September three days before it was closing. I contacted all the news media, environmental watchdogs, Site C opponents, and MPs I could think of - to no avail, despite considerable signal boost from facebookies and the twitterati.
The previous Tuesday, having recently issued permits via Transport Canada and Fisheries and Oceans to allow the Site C dam to proceed even as the West Moberly and Prophet River First Nation were challenging the previous government's approval of it in the courts, the Trudeau government told the House of Commons "it is now up to B.C. Hydro to conduct any further public consultations".
So I wrote to the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, to whom BC Hydro had made the logging application, and asked how an ad in the back of Alaska Highway News that didn't even mention Site C qualified as public consultation.
Today, 80 days later, I received their reply.
Dear Alison Creekside
Thank you for your comments and concerns regarding the application for crown land use, file number 8015830 (BC Hydro). Your comments and concerns have been used in the decision making process for this application. In direct response to your specific correspondence regarding the above file, please be aware of the following information.
The decision made by government to move forward with the Site “C” Project was made December 16, 2014. Public and other stakeholder input was gathered for the period of the Environmental Assessment Process conducted by the Environmental Assessment Office beginning in January 2012. The applicant was granted an Environmental Assessment Certificate (EAC#14-02) on October 14, 2014. The Environmental Assessment was given consideration to the project level decision on December 16, 2014. The project level decision was based on many factors, including but not limited to, the public and stakeholder input, the Environmental Assessment process and all the associated studies and conditions recommended, current land status and future land status (i.e. Agriculture Land Reserve, potential parks areas and Old Growth Areas), project level management plans, environmental plans, other risk mitigation plans, geotechnical studies for slope stability and viability, and archaeological studies.
All applications for crown land use at the Licence/Permit level must be consistent with the construction schedule of the approved project level decision. All applications packages for specific area Licence/Permit for consideration by the decision maker, must contain area specific detailed management plans, area specific detailed risk avoidance and mitigation strategies for values at risk, and any other information the decision maker requests to aid in the decision making process.
At this time, the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations is considering public and other stakeholder comments and concerns at the Licence/Permit specific area level. The processes used to make decisions at the Licence/Permit level are transparent and implemented using practices found in policy and law (for example, the minimum time an application must be advertised in the newspaper is legislated). In the case of this application, the advertisement period was for 14 days in the local newspaper the Alaska Highway News. Even though the time period for receiving public and stakeholder input had passed, comments and concerns continued to be received up to the date of decision for this application.
Appeals through the judicial system on the Project Decision do not interrupt the adjudication of applications for the area specific Licence/Permit. No injunctions to halt the project or the associated Licences/Permits due to recent appeals have been granted by the courts to date.
Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations
#100, 10003-110th Avenue
Fort St John, BC V1J 6M7
Today agrologist and journalist Wendy Holm reported the BC NDP sent out a pre-election survey to supporters and members of the public "to help guide the strategies of the NDP".
It did not mention Site C.
The BC NDP survey : 15 questions, one of them a multiple choice of 17 issues to prioritize.