The Site C Dam location is seen along the Peace River in Fort St. John, B.C., Tuesday, April 18, 2017. The cost of British Columbia’s Site C hydroelectric dam has grown to $16 billion and the completion has been moved up a year to 2025. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

The Site C Dam location is seen along the Peace River in Fort St. John, B.C., Tuesday, April 18, 2017. The cost of British Columbia’s Site C hydroelectric dam has grown to $16 billion and the completion has been moved up a year to 2025. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

BC Liberal energy critic blasts ‘lack of transparency’ on Site C

MLA Tom Shypitka says Site C going ahead is a ‘good thing’, blames NDP for mismanagement

A controversial hydroelectric project in northern B.C. will be billions of dollars over budget and won’t be operational until 2025, according to an update from Premier John Horgan.

The Site C project on the Peace River, is now expected to cost $16 billion and is over halfway complete and geotechnical challenges on the right bank of the project has slowed progress, as expert reviews were needed to ensure necessary foundation enhancements can support construction of the dam.

During a press conference on Friday, Premier Horgan also said the provincial government and BC Hydro has accepted 17 recommendations from Peter Milburn, who led a team conducting an independent review last year, which will improve oversight, risk management and governance of the project.

“Today I am confirming that the Site C energy project will be completed,” said Premier Horgan. “That decision came through due diligence and care and deliberation on what was in the best interests of all British Columbians and I believe today we’ve made the right decision.”

Hogan also announced a change of leadership at BC Hydro’s board of directors, announcing the appointment of Doug Allen as the new board chair, replacing Ken Peterson.

The costs to cancel the project, including costs already incurred and costs to remediate the land, would run to $10 billion. Cancelling the project would impact the workforce of 4,500 and cause electricity rates to rise significantly, according to Premier Horgan.

Horgan said managing the main civil works contract that was signed by the previous BC Liberal government has caused some issues and transfers much of the geotechnical risks associated with the project back to BC Hydro. Horgan added that the COVID-19 pandemic has also presented construction delays and challenges.

BC Liberal critic responds

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka said Site C going ahead is a “good thing” but accused the provincial NDP of mismanaging the project doubling the costs from $8 billion to $16 billion

“That’s a big number when you’re talking billions of dollars,” said Shypitka, the BC Liberal critic for energy and mines. “We’re not too happy with the cost overruns and we’re not happy with the lack of transparency that government has provided throughout this whole process.”

While Premier Horgan put some of the blame of the project’s woes at the feet of the previous B.C. Liberal government, Shypitka said the NDP previously told the legislature that the project would be on time and on budget in 2017.

“Since that time, it’s gone from an $8.5 billion project to now $16 billion,” Shypitka said. “Somewhere, between on time and on budget, has happened to be mismanagement and over-budget. That didn’t happen under our watch, that was 100 per cent under their watch.

“The lack of transparency, the missing quarterly reports from BC Hydro…this veil of secrecy and lack of transparency to the taxpayers of British Columbia should be an outrage to people.”

Many of Milburn’s recommendations focused on oversight of the project, particularly with respect to BC Hydro and risk management strategies.

Shypitka says time will tell if the province has made enough changes to keep the project on track.

“I don’t know what the future brings,” Shypitka said. “I know what the past has brought us, the past has brought us mismanagement, not only on Site C, but many other projects in B.C. over the last four years. I’m fearful that this may not be the end of it. I hope I’m wrong, because I don’t want to see that for anybody.”

Site C timeline

Site C construction began in 2015, with more than 50 per cent of the project completed to date, employing approximately 4,500.

The Peace River was diverted last fall into two 750-metre long tunnels, which will facilitate construction of an earthfill dam on dry land.

Construction work is ongoing for the powerhouse and penstocks – large steel pipes that carry water from the reservoir to the power generating turbines — are more than halfway finished.

COVID-19 had a significant impact on construction last year, which scaled back activity and is pushing the completion date ahead by a year to 2025.

This year, areas of focus will be the earthfill dam, powerhouse, intakes, penstocks, and finishing a second transmission line between the Peace Canyon generating station to the Site C substation, among other priorities.

Upon completion, the dam will provide 1,100 megawatts, and produce 5,100 gigawatt hours — enough to power 450,000 homes.

While billed as a clean energy project, Site C has also been criticized for displacing residents in the Peace River Valley and destroying wildlife habitat and traditional Indigenous territory.



trevor.crawley@cranbrooktownsman.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
67 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Thirty people in the region are hospitalized with the virus, 11 of whom are intensive care

Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison. Photo courtesy Conservative Party of Canada.
Kootenay-Columbia MP pans federal budget

Conservative Rob Morrison says budget doesn’t have a plan for long-term spending priorities

The IIO is investigating after a police dog bit a man during a traffic stop near Ladysmith on April 17, 2021. (Black Press Media stock photo)
Man arrested in incident at Canada-U.S. border near Roosville

A man who crossed the border illegally was apprehended by U.S. officials

People are shown at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, April 18, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
211 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health over the weekend

Currently, there are 875 active cases of the virus in the region

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

Mak Parhar speaks at an anti-mask rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. Parhar was arrested on Nov. 2 and charged with allegedly violating the Quarantine Act after returning from a Flat Earth conference held in Geenville, South Carolina on Oct. 24. (Flat Earth Focker/YouTube.com screenshot)
Judge tosses lawsuit of B.C. COVID-denier who broke quarantine after Flat Earth conference

Mak Parhar accused gov, police of trespass, malfeasance, extortion, terrorism, kidnapping and fraud

Ambulance paramedic in full protective gear works outside Lion’s Gate Hospital, March 23, 2020. Hospitals are seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients more than a year into the pandemic. (The Canadian Press)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate declines, 849 cases Tuesday

Up to 456 people now in hospital, 148 in intensive care

The golf course in Elkford would need to be re-zoned to allow for 10 camping sites. (Image courtesy of District of Elkford)
Elkford to consider allowing campsites at golf course

The district has expressed support for 10 campground spaces at the golf course

Most Read