Four representatives from the project were present at the meetings: David Conway, Simon Douglas, Michel Savidant and George Hemeon. The panel gave those in attendance an update on the project's status and construction as well as information on procurement opportunities.
Two themes began to evolve during the question and answer periods: how this could affect us, and how can we benefit from it.
The crowd heard that B.C. Hydro's investigations show that there won't be a significant change in fluctuation of water levels in the area. However, because the facility will be quite close to Taylor, Peace Island Park and the boat launch, those areas will see water level changes sooner. Conway added, "the reservoir would be the stablest reservoir in B.C. Hydro's system," with 1.8 metre movement, and operations rarely fluctuating more than a metre.
Conway also spoke about the conversations they've been having with the City and the Regional District about the impact the project would have on services. When asked about the landfill, he said he's been given data that shows the it is good for a "significant" number of years. However, they are concerned about the potential of leeching from the landfill into the reservoir, adding the Regional District is currently monitoring the situation.
Although a public access road across the dam was included in the original plans, it has been removed, as it is no longer required for construction or operations. There will be a road on the north side that will lead to the power house, but it will not continue to the other side or be open to the public.
Conway explained the proposed road received mixed reactions from different communities. Generally speaking, Fort St. John and Chetwynd were in favour of the road, with the condition for Chetwynd that there be an upgrade of Jackfish Lake Road. On the other hand, Hudson's Hope was against it, as they felt it would take opportunities away from the community, while Dawson Creek had mixed feelings about it.
With regards to Fort St. John and Taylor's water supply, Conway says they are currently studying what the impact will be on the supply river downstream. There has been talks of the cities receiving water from the reservoir if the project goes through.
Other issues being considered are the social impact of the influx of workers on neighbouring cities, whether or not they will pay to connect with Fort St. John services or not, as well as housing workers in the city, in addition to camps.
When it comes to procurement, Michel Savidant, commercial manager for the project, says jobs are already being filled in the environmental assessment stage. He encouraged businesses to become part of the Site C Clean Energy Project's business directory in order to hear about possible business opportunities.
"If you think you can provide these services, be prepared for when we go out and start procurement."
That includes doing research on what type of work will be needed, and checking www.bcbid.gov.bc.ca where all the procurement will be done through. He added that some construction for camps, etc. could begin as early as 2012/2013.
There will also be opportunities for Aboriginal companies, as George Hemeon pointed out. There will be a separate business directory for those who meet the eligibility requirements, so companies can also look to create joint ventures.
The Site C project is currently in the early part of the third stage of development, which is the environmental and regulatory review. There are two more information sessions left in this fall's tour: November 29 in Prince George and December 1 in Vancouver.