The Site C dam in the Peace River region will be moving ahead, announced the provincial government on Monday.
The mega-project, the largest capital investment in provincial history at over $10 billion, was opposed by the NDP during the recent election campaign. However, Premier John Horgan promised to have the project reviewed by the BC Utilities Commission before making a decision on whether to move forward or shut it down after taking the government reigns in a power-sharing agreement with the BC Greens in July.
Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka, who is serving as the opposition critic for the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, said he wasn’t surprised by the announcement.
“It’s not surprising, it’s something we’ve [Liberals] have been advocating for years, it’s just disappointing in how we got to this decision,” Shypitka said.
“…It’s a big win for all the jobs that are up there; 2,400 for all those direct employees, also for First Nations and the communities that are involved in the economic stimulus this project is creating.
Also for the many businesses and unions and non-unions alike that are involved.”
However, Shypitka said he was disappointed with how the review process played out, accusing the NDP government of causing cost overruns and timeline delays by taking it to the BCUC.
“This project’s been reviewed to death for seven, eight years and the NDP delayed this unnecessarily for seven or eight weeks on a review from the BCUC which, in my opinion, was not even close to being long enough to get something substantial,” he said.
“We’ve reviewed this for years and they thought they could get a different conclusion after seven weeks.”
The project is two years into construction and is estimated to cost up to $10.7 billion after the BC Liberals projected an $8.3 billion price tag. Premier John Horgan said during his press conference that it would cost $4 billion to shut the project down.
The dam is expected to be completed in 2024.
Shypitka took aim at Michelle Mungall, the Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, noting that she was opposed to the project in the past before she was in cabinet. He also took issue with BC Green Party leader Andrew Weaver, who opposes the project, for continuing to support the NDP government in spite of it’s approval of the dam.
“They [Greens] have the power to say, ‘No, we want to cancel Site C, we will not support government to put this project through’,” said Shypitka.