Heading into the New Year, the Site-C Dam project continues to be the subject of controversy.
First Nations and area land owners are preparing to appeal court rulings earlier this year, and in addition, the year has closed with the BC Building Trades Council challenging the number of jobs it fears will go to out-of-province workers. At issue is the biggest single contract awarded by BC Hydro to Peace River Hydro Partners, which angered the Council because it doesn’t have an affiliation with any of the consortium’s companies.
However, Energy Minister Bill Bennet has answered criticism that the government isn’t doing enough to guarantee jobs for British Columbians…calling it “Totally bogus and sour grapes.” He argues the Council has had a constant campaign trying to persuade people that because it didn’t get any part of the main civil contract, it means no British Columbians will have a chance to work on the project.
He adds, 75 to 80 percent of the first 600 workers at the project site are from B.C and says there’s no reason to think that Peace River Hydro Partners is going to do things any differently. He says the Council is simply unhappy that the province didn’t compel BC Hydro to sign a project labor agreement with the unionized group.
Meantime, Council board member Brian Cochrane is challenging Mr. Bennett to get his facts straight and stop blaming the BC building trades for his own government’s broken promises and failure to protect BC jobs. He says Mr. Bennett throws around wild, unsubstantiated numbers with no documentation and in a verbal swipe at the Peace River North MLA, Mr. Cochrane accuses Pat Pimm of promoting a provincial program to bring foreign workers to Fort St. John.