There’s no imminent threat of flooding on Cheslatta Carrier Nation’s (CCN) territory, according to Mike Robertson, CCN’s senior policy advisor.
“However, this could change quickly with hot weather and a major moisture event, combined with snowmelt,” he said.
The region is seeing below-normal snowpack levels this year. However, seasonal forecasts from Environment Canada indicate an increased likelihood of above-normal temperatures over the April-June period.
Although there was no significant flooding on Cheslatta territory in 2016, the nation has dealt with an almost yearly flooding at the Cheslatta Lake and River system since 1952. Over the past 64 years, CCN regularly recover skeletal remains of their ancestors on the lakeshore and estimate that more than 60 graves have been destroyed.
“Each year, the members of our nation re-live that devastation of knowing their ancestors are somewhere out in the lake,” said CCN Chief Corrina Leween. “My grandparents; great-grandparents; aunts and uncles are amongst the graves that have been washed away.”
Cheslatta leaders believe that building a water release facility at Kenney Dam would be the best option to address the issue. They have been in discussions with the provincial government and Rio Tinto for the past few years.
Premier Christy Clark visited Cheslatta Carrier Nation last year and was asked if the provincial government would support a water release facility project.
“We need to discuss the alternatives because the original plan doesn’t look like it would make the impact that people thought,” said Clark during her visit on Sept. 12, 2016.
Clark pointed out that the estimated cost of the project would be $200 million.
Robertson said politicians and industry have been “scared of the project’s cost.”
“We’re not asking Rio Tinto or B.C. for funding to build it,” he said last September. “We don’t need money from Rio Tinto or B.C., nor are we asking for it.”
Robertson added that a viable power purchase agreement between Cheslatta Carrier Nation and B.C. Hydro would be one of the ways to cover the cost of the project.