BC pushes ahead with controversial dam project, over objections by former regulators and first nations.

The site C dam will divert a river, flood a valley and cost BC Taxpayers $16 billion dollars   Photo Courtesy BC Hydro
The site C dam will divert a river, flood a valley and cost BC Taxpayers $16 billion dollars Photo Courtesy BC Hydro
Lisa Cordasco - CHLY - NanaimoBC | 26-02-2021

The controversial Site C hydroelectric project is a go.  The provincial government says it will cost double the original estimate, or $16 billion dollars to complete.  But, it says killing the project would be too big a blow to BC's economy.  Officials say cancelling it would cost $10 billion dollars, leading to a 26 per cent hydro rate increase that would begin immediately, whereas going ahead with the project would lead to a 14 and a half per cent increase that wouldn't begin until 2025.  BC Green Party leader Sonya Furstenau questions those figures.

Meanwhile, a review by a former BC deputy minister of finance concluded there were problems with the way BC Hydro managed the project, but the government says Peter Milburn's 17 recommendations are being implemented...including replacing the chair of BC Hydro.  Premier John Horgan downplayed concerns about the safety of the dam, which is an unproven design being built on unstable shale rock in an earthquake zone.  Horgan says a technical review has deemed it safe, and those advisors will be retained for the foreseeable future.

The government has said nothing about the demand for hydro power.  Domestic demand  has not increased in BC in more than a decade and the former Chair of the Review Panel into Site C, Harry Swain, says the revenues projected amount to between one quarter and one third the cost of the project.  The West Moberly First Nations says the government decision has been made without any attempt at consultation with those most affected by it.  Chief Roland Willson says his nation is not convinced the project is safe.  The nation is taking the province to court over the issue, saying it violates Treaty 8, which Willson says "promises the right to hunt, fish, trap and carry out our traditional lifestyle free from 'forced interference.'"