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

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

A nurse prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. As of April 19, more than 230,000 doses have been administered across the Interior Health region. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press)
More than 230K doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered across Interior Health

A total of 220,216 first doses and 13,775 second doses have been given to residents across the B.C. Interior

Pictured is mosquito larvae in a body of water. (City of Cranbrook file)
Cranbrook mosquito control program underway

Early tests identify a possible boom in the local mosquito population

Crews and volunteers responded to a four-hectare wildfire on the lower half of the Aqam community lands near Cranbrook on Friday afternoon. Trevor Crawley photo.
Wildfire season gets early start in the East Kootenay

Fire crews, volunteers respond to two local wildfires, while prescribed burns turn weekend skies smoky

Clockwise from top left: The Studio Stage Door (Barry Coulter photo); Spencer Kerr (left) and Ferdy Belland, have along with Casey Wright purchased the historic Armond Theatre in downtown Cranbrook (Barry Coulter photo); St. Eugene Mission Resort (Jim Cameron photo); Juniper Lanes Bowling Alley (Trevor Crawley photo)
Cranbrook’s Heritage Buildings: The Age Of Restoration

Cranbrook History Centre’s next “Ed Talk,” April 28, is “Building Community in Heritage Buildings”

Sunday’s storm rocked one of the ferries crossing Kootenay Lake. Photo: Dirk Jonker
VIDEO: Storm makes for wild ferry ride across Kootenay Lake

The video was captured by ferry employee Dirk Jonker

Families of two of three workers killed in a train derailment near Field, B.C., in 2019 have filed lawsuits accusing Canadian Pacific of gross negligence. The derailment sent 99 grain cars and two locomotives off the tracks. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Families of workers killed in Field train derailment allege negligence in lawsuit

Lawsuits allege the workers weren’t provided a safe work environment

(New Westminster Police)
4 youth arrested after 30-person brawl in New Westminster leaves 1 seriously injured

Police are looking for witnesses who saw the incident take place

South Surrey’s Paul Cottrell, who works with the DFO, tows a grey whale out of Semiahmoo Bay Sunday. (Contributed photo)
Dead whale floating near White Rock towed to shore for necropsy

Animal has been dead since at least April 15

Dr. Bonnie Henry gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Toddler marks youngest British Columbian to die related to COVID-19

Child one of eight people to die from virus this weekend

Chakalaka Bar & Grill remains open in defiance of orders from Island Health to close. (Cole Schisler photo)
B.C. health authority seeks injunction against restaurant defying COVID-19 orders

Chakalaka Bar and Grill plans to continue serving customers without public health compliance

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

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Kimberley's Steve Tersmette has published Waterfall Hikes In Southern British Columbia, documenting 100 of the areas waterfalls.

Most Read