Stakeholders on all sides weigh in after Site C Final Report released

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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — Stakeholders both for and against the B.C. government continuing to build the Site C dam are weighing in after the B.C. Utilities Commission’s final report into the project was released on Wednesday.

Consultant Robert McCullough of McCullough Research, who was commissioned by the Peace Valley Environment Association and the Peace Valley Landowner Association said he felt that the BCUC panel showed “a lot of bravery” in issuing its report.

“Basically, every element of the BC Hydro submissions were rejected. The load forecast BC Hydro had recommended is basically wreckage. The export price summaries did not succeed. Their wild estimates of how much more wind costs in British Columbia than everywhere else in North America certainly did not succeed. The cost comparisons favour the alternatives. I think the Commission did a great job, and its time to terminate this white elephant.”

Independent Contractors and Businesses Association spokesman Jordan Bateman said his organization felt the report was actually in favour of continuing Site C.

“We think this report backs up the fact that the best thing for British Columbia going forward is to finish the Site C dam. You’re talking about 4 billion worth of spending and remediation costs. You just can’t save that amount of money in any other way getting extra energy. It’s a big construction project, things happen, its impossible to know with 100 percent certainty but, I wouldn’t say it’s 100 percent certain its going to go over budget either. That’s just the opinion of one outside firm.”

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BC Building Trades Council executive director Tom Sigurdson offered several insights. Overall, Sigurdson said he was in favour of the project, provided a number of changes be made.

“From a Building Trades perspective, we are neither the policymakers or the regulators. The policymakers in the previous administration, even though we argued with them about the shape of the project and how it was going to be constructed, they went ahead and decided that they were going to build it in the fashion that it’s being built. Now, we’ve got hundreds of millions of dollars of cost overruns.”

Sigurdson contrasted Site C with the $1.1 billion John Hart Generating Station upgrade project near Campbell River. He cited an article in the Victoria Times Colonist saying that the project, which is due to be complete in late 2018 or early 2019 according to BC Hydro, is currently on time and on budget.

“I think it was quite coincidental. On time, on budget, Building Trades labour-built, no shortage of workers for the project, and all B.C. workforce. Site C: not on time, not on budget, 20 percent of the workforce coming from outside B.C., and it was very deliberate on the part of the previous administration to do that. We’ve had an Allied Hydro Agreement in place with all governments for the past 50 years, and the previous government has decided to change that. Our position is: if it’s going to be built, we want to build it. The benefits to having B.C. workers on the project, as W.A.C. Bennett discovered in the 1960’s, are many.”

Energy Minister Michelle Mungall said yesterday that the B.C. government will make its final decision on Site C by the end of the year.

With files from the Victoria Times-Colonist:

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