Two courts have rejected attempts by a pair of British Columbia First Nations to halt the construction of the Site C hydroelectric dam.
A B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled Friday against issuing a stop-work order for the first phase of construction of the nearly $9-billion project on the Peace River, near Fort St. John.
The Federal Court also dismissed the First Nations' challenge of the environmental approval process among a pair of related decisions affecting Site C.
The West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations went to court for separate hearings — earlier this month in the B.C. court, and Federal Court in July.
Both of the Federal Court rulings issued Friday saw the dismissal of a judicial review of the environmental certificate. A second case launched by the Peace Valley Landowner Association was also dismissed after a hearing in July.
Site C spokesman David Conway lauded all three rulings.
"We believe Site C is the right project at the right time for B.C. and we look forward to continuing with construction," Conway said in a statement.
He would not comment further, saying BC Hydro and the West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations are scheduled to appear in court in November for a judicial review of Site C permits.
The First Nations went to B.C. Supreme Court seeking a stop-work order on Site C, arguing they weren't consulted properly on permits approved by the province for the first phase of construction.
The groups told court they would suffer irreparable harm if thousands of hectares of old-growth forest are cleared. BC Hydro argued that an injunction would cost upwards of $500 million and delay the project by at least a year.
On Friday, the First Nations said it's still significant that the utility promised in court not to act on specific permits allowing clear-cutting of old-growth forest in some areas.
"We went to court to protect our old growth trees, eagle nests, beaver dams and our traditional way of life," West Moberly Chief Roland Willson said in a release.
"As a result, BC Hydro will not be destroying the forests or removing eagle nests and beaver dams in the Moberly River valley. We asked for those areas to be protected."
Federal Court Judge Michael Manson dismissed the judicial review brought by the First Nations, which are part of the Tribal 8 Treaty Alliance.
He said in a written decision that the review was "not the appropriate course of action" to determine whether treaty rights have been infringed.
"In my view, BC Hydro's consultation has been extensive and conducted in good faith," he said.
Construction on Site C is scheduled to take at least a decade. BC Hydro has said the project is expected to generate enough electricity to power 450,000 homes a year.