Government, BC Hydro sign historic agreement with First Nations

British Columbia and BC Hydro have signed a final agreement with the St'át'imc and each of its 11 member bands that, once ratified, will address the longstanding grievances related to the construction and operation of BC Hydro's Bridge River system.

Once ratified, the agreement will provide the St'át'imc with compensation, mitigation of impacts and economic opportunities. The agreement will also provide BC Hydro and the B.C. government with operational certainty for the future.

The settlement will provide an initial sum payment and additional payments over time, the majority of which will be put into a long term trust. Each of the 11 member bands will also receive separate payments under their respective community agreements.

A ratification vote is tentatively scheduled by St'át'imc community members for the spring of 2011. Subject to a successful ratification process, the final agreement will be signed by all parties shortly thereafter. BC Hydro and the St'át'imc have been negotiating an agreement since 1993.

In addition to financial compensation, the agreement provides funding for:
Environmental initiatives to help restore fish, wildlife and vegetation
A heritage plan to preserve and promote St'át'imc culture
A relations agreement to assist in developing a long-term sustainable relationship
An education and training component to build capacity within the communities

The St'át'imc is made up of 11 bands. Collectively, they own 75 reserves and their asserted territory encompasses 1.6 million hectares. BC Hydro's Bridge River assets are located entirely within St'át'imc asserted traditional territory. These assets include: three dams, three reservoirs, four generating stations, 15 transmission circuits totaling approximately 850 kilometers of transmission lines, 160 kilometers of access roads and four recreation facilities.

The density of BC Hydro assets in St'át'imc' asserted territory is greater than that found anywhere else in British Columbia and account for approximately five percent of BC Hydro's generation capacity.

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