FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — 2015 marks the year that Site C started taking off and the project was actualized not just by BC Hydro, but by residents of the Peace Region. The year also started right after the province announced that they would be moving forward with the project in December 2014.
This summer, construction on the project officially began — with upgrades of Old Fort Road, 269 Road, and 240 Road on the north bank of the Peace River. In November, the construction of a 300-worker camp had also made significant progress.
But where BC Hydro has made progress this year, they have also faced, arguably, some of their great opposition.
Many members of some Treaty 8 First Nations are critical of the project, citing the impact it would have on the farmland and wildlife as a primary concern. The West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations took the crown corporation to the B.C. Supreme Court to challenge the permits this fall, after the Supreme Court also dismissed a request for a stop-work injunction in August.
A vote in legislative assembly saw the B.C. Liberals almost unanimously vote to keep construction continuing on, despite strong NDP opposition — in January of this year, the NDP called out the B.C. Liberals on not following expert recommendations on the project. Though the province has made it clear they will see the project through, the election of a new federal government with a Liberal majority shone a new light on it. Representatives from various Treaty 8 First Nations appealed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to refuse the issue of permits for Hydro to continue work.
Countless rallies and protests across the province have taken place this year — including one event that hosted notable environmentalist David Suzuki, and the most recent of which at the main entrance of the construction site seeing the arrest of a protester. This is not the first time things took a turn for the worst at at Site C-related function; in July, a man was shot near the location where a B.C. Hydro open house.
Looking ahead to 2016, the main civic works are expected to start on the project early next year. The contract, valued at a whopping $1.75 billion, will be awarded to Peace River Hydro Partners. Some have cited concerns that Hydro has commitments to hiring workers from the Prairies for the project, but they assure they will be putting an emphasis onhiring local workers and contractors — as they did with the Fort St. John Hospital.
For more stories about the project, from 2015 and beyond, check out the Site C section of our website.