Samahquam to get roughly $52 million in hydro settlement 

Settlement moneys based on hydro impacts to communities

The Samahquam First Nation will get at least $52 million through a settlement agreement with BC Hydro, a document provided to Pique indicates.

The "private and confidential" document, which describes the "Samahquam - Payments, Share of Legacy Fund and Benefits" and is approved by auditing company Deloitte and Touche LLP, says the First Nation, one of 11 tribes of the St'at'imc Nation, will get a final "bottom line" estimate of $52,719,000 through a settlement whose payments are expected to last 50 years.

Part of the settlement with Samahquam includes a $1 million signing bonus for ratifying the agreement; a one-time community payment of $750,000; a one-time "Nation Payment" of $550,000; and a "New Transmission Line Nation Payment" of $110,790. The one-time payments altogether total $2,410,790.

Beyond that, Samahquam will also be getting $12,508,657 over 50 years in what's called a Nation Annual Payment made directly to the band over 50 years. The band is expected to get $143,798 in the first year of payments and an estimated $398,119 in year 50.

All of this money comes as part of an estimated $210 million settlement to the 11 tribes of the St'at'imc Nation in what's called the St'at'imc Hydro Agreement, a settlement for impacts of hydro infrastructure on various First Nation communities.

The money is intended to compensate the bands for construction that BC Hydro began decades ago when the Crown Corporation was called BC Electric. Back then the company began building electricity infrastructure in the Bridge River area that now includes three dams, four generating stations, three reservoirs and 850 kilometres of transmission lines.

Those lines now traverse the territory of the Southern St'at'imc communities, which include Samahquam, Skatin and the Xa'xtsa First Nation, whose Tipella and Port Douglas communities lie at the north end of Harrison Lake.

The money will be put into a trust where it is expected to accrue interest over several decades and the money could reach above the $210 million that's currently estimated.

The money provided to Samahquam differs from the funds being offered to other bands in the St'at'imc Nation. It is provided to each band based on the impacts that Hydro infrastructure has had on different communities.

Mike Leach, chair of the St'at'imc Chiefs Council, which negotiated the agreement with BC Hydro starting in 1993, declined to comment on the funds described in the document.

"You're talking specifically Samahquam," he said. "So I can't as a chair be commenting on a community's information. It's just our protocol."

The settlement has only been initialed by the council and by BC Hydro, so the bands won't yet benefit from the money provided therein. The agreement is now going through a ratification process that includes open houses in the various communities that will benefit from the settlement.

 

 

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