FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – BC Hydro announced Tuesday that it has selected a new realignment for Highway 29 in the Cache Creek/Bear Flat area, following consultations with Indigenous groups and local property owners.
Premier John Horgan announced that the provincial government was proceeding with building Site C following a review by the B.C. Utilities Commission last December.
That same month. the Province asked Hydro and the Ministry of Transportation to work with Treaty 8 First Nations and local property owners to redesign the Highway 29 realignment at Cache Creek/Bear Flat to reduce the effects on potential burial sites and areas of cultural importance identified by First Nations.
In January, Hydro said it began engaging with Indigenous groups and property owners to share information and get feedback on two alternate realignment options. Indigenous groups and property owners were provided with the draft evaluation criteria that would be used for selecting a new realignment and were invited to comment on the criteria.
A third realignment option was developed in early March as a result of the consultation process and became one of the realignment options that BC Hydro assessed.
A higher-resolution map of the realignment can be found here: https://www.sitecproject.com/sites/default/files/highway-29-realignment-options-map.pdf.
Hydro said that several Indigenous groups conducted ground-truthing investigations and reported on their findings over the spring and summer.
In late July, BC Hydro said it met with five Indigenous groups and seven property owners to share and seek feedback on the preliminary findings of the investigations and evaluation criteria.
The selected realignment option – which was developed through consultation – is located north of the original route and is approximately 240 metres away from a potential burial site and 370 metres from an area identified to be of cultural importance.
This option is the second shortest route of the three considered, meets provincial design and safety requirements, and includes a longer bridge at the Cache Creek crossing.
Hydro said that compared to the two other options that were considered, the selected route:
- has similar or lower impacts to archaeological and heritage sites, and
- has lower impacts to private lands and agricultural lands than the most northern route evaluated.
BC Hydro will be continuing work for this portion of the realignment, including geotechnical investigations and drilling. Full construction on this segment of the highway realignment is expected to be underway by 2020.
Hydro said that construction activities for the western four kilometres of the highway realignment at Cache Creek/Bear Flat, which is not affected by the alternate realignment options that were studied for the eastern section of this segment, will begin at the end of this month.