Site C will go ahead, one year later and $5.3 billion more, the NDP announced Feb 26. (BC Hydro image)

Site C will go ahead, one year later and $5.3 billion more, the NDP announced Feb 26. (BC Hydro image)

B.C. to go ahead with Site C dam, with new $16B budget and delayed to 2025

Reviews recommend more oversight, beefed up foundation stability work

Premier John Horgan says his government will continue building the Site C mega dam in northeastern B.C., with an increased budget of $16 billion and a one year delay.

Last August, the government commissioned a special review after BC Hydro acknowledged a serious concern about the dam’s foundational stability. Those reports were made public Friday (Feb. 26), with the province accepting all recommendations.

Special advisor Peter Milburn recommended additional oversight, but did not find evidence of mismanagement.

The government calculated it would cost $10 billion to terminate the dam, and that it will be preferable to complete Site C at the higher price than to absorb the loss. Horgan said cancelling the dam would have an immediate impact to ratepayers of an estimated 26 per cent rate increase over 10 years.

About $6 billion has already been spent, and construction on the dam is over half complete, BC Hydro said.

The Peace River has been diverted, the coffer dams are done and two of the massive turbines have arrived from Brazil. Energy Minister Bruce Ralston also said most of the environmental impacts have already occurred.

In reaction to the announcement, Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau criticized the decision, saying “this isn’t the last time [British Columbians] are going to hear about costs going up.” The Green Party have consistently opposed the dam.

The BC Liberals, who initially approved the dam under former premier Gordon Campbell, have not released an official statement. Interim leader Shirley Bond did re-tweet a comment from pundit Shane Mills saying the NDP “have completely bungled oversight of project of project that was on-time and on-budget.”

RELATED: BC Liberal critic blasts ‘lack of transparency’ on Site C

When the Liberals left power it 2017, they said the project was on time and on budget, but when the BC Utilities Commission reviewed the project later that year, they called that claim into question, predicting probable cost overruns and delays.

The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs has also consistently opposed the dam on the grounds that the First Nations in the area were not adequately consulted and did not give their consent – impact benefit agreements notwithstanding – despite the province’s voice interest in reconciliation.

Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, UBCIC Secretary-Treasurer, added that the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has called on Canada to suspend Site C until it has the free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous Peoples.

RELATED: Open letter urges B.C. to pause work at Site C dam to review costs, geotechnical issues

As for geotechnical concerns, engineers virtually evaluated the small movement shifts that had been observed and recommended solutions to shore up the strength of the foundation. These necessary changes plus COVID-19 adjustments make up about half of the increases costs, while the remaining $2.6 billion is set for other unrelated cost overruns.

The actual rate increase from completing the project are unknown, as they will not take effect until the dam is complete – now estimated for 2025. BC Hydro has estimated a roughly $36 annual increase for an average rate payer.

RELATED: First Nation calls for release of Site C report in open letter to premier

The dam has been controversial since the 1980s when it was first proposed as a series of dams on the Peace River. Supporters say the mega dam will supply B.C. with stable energy to meet growing capacity needs.

Those opposed group under a variety of reasons, a primary critique being the ballooning budget.

Site C was originally approved with an $8.8 billion budget in 2014. It increased to $10.7 billion after the BC Utilities Commission reviewed the project in 2017 when the NDP took over government.

Concerns around dam stability have been raised by the public for years. Other complaints are about the ecological impact, First Nations rights in the area, and whether B.C. really needs the power supply.

Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email: zoe.ducklow@blackpress.ca


BCHydroenergy sector

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A Keremeos family lost their home after a fire shortly before midnight on April 13. No injuries were reported. (Contributed)
Keremeos home destroyed in late-night fire

The family inside was unharmed

An Interior Health nurse administers Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to seniors and care aids in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16, 2021. (Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News)
105 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

Just over 8,000 new vaccine doses administered in the region for a total of 158,000 to date

Bad Tattoo owner Lee Auger and head brewmaster Liam Hutcheson welcomed Firehall Brewery owner Syd Ruhland into their brew-room to make a massive batch of his hit Backdraft Blonde Ale Tuesday, April 2021. (Firehall Brewery / Facebook)
Drinking buddies: Penticton brewery steps up to help out smaller competitor

Firehall Brewery of Oliver needed larger equipment to meet demand; Bad Tattoo was happy to help

Campfires are allowed within the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, but open burning season comes to an end April 15 at midnight. (Black Press file photo)
Open burning season ends in Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen

Campfires are permitted, following provincial guidelines

Send your letter to the editor via email to news@summerlandreview.com. Please included your first and last name, address, and phone number.
LETTER: Name is spelled incorrectly

For 100 years, the Garnett name has been spelled incorrectly as Garnet

Arlene Howe holds up a picture of her son, Steven, at a memorial event for drug overdose victims and their families at Kelowna’s Rotary Beach Park on April 14. Steven died of an overdose at the age of 32 on Jan. 31, 2015. (Aaron Hemens - Kelowna Capital News)
Moms Stop the Harm members placed crosses Wednesday morning, April 14, on Rotary Beach in memory of children lost to drug overdoses. (Aaron Hemens - Capital News)
Kelowna mothers remember children lost to the opioid crisis

It has been five years since illicit drug deaths was announced a public health emergency

Demonstrators at the legislature on April 14 called on the province to decriminalize drug possession and provide widespread access to regulated safe supply across B.C. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
Rally calls for decriminalization, safe supply on 5th anniversary of overdose emergency declaration

From 2016 to the end of February, 7,072 British Columbians died due to overdose

Naloxone
Op/Ed: Interior Health CEO speaks on five years of strides and challenges in overdose crisis

In 2020, close to 4,000 people across IH had access to opioid medications

Somewhere in the pack being celebrated by his teammates is Vernon Vipers forward Zack Tonelli, who scored in overtime Wednesday afternoon, April 14, to give the Snakes a 6-5 win over the Salmon Arm Silverbacks in B.C. Hockey League pod play at Kal Tire Place. (Liza Mazurek - Vernon Vipers Photography)
Vernon Vipers bite Salmon Arm Silverbacks in OT

Snakes blow 5-3 third-period lead, rally in extra time for 6-5 pod play result over rivals

(Government of Canada)
Liberal MP caught stark naked during House of Commons video conference

William Amos, in Quebec, appeared on the screens of his fellow members of Parliament completely naked

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Feb. 1, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps to 1,168 Wednesday, nearly 400 in hospital

Now 120 coronavirus patients in intensive care, six more deaths

Moss covered branches are seen in the Avatar Old Growth Forest near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, B.C. Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. blockades aimed at protecting old-growth forests reveal First Nation split

Two Pacheedaht chiefs say they’re ‘concerned about the increasing polarization over forestry activities’ in the territory

Okanagan Falls Volunteer Fire Department, photo from Okanagan Falls Volunteer Fire Department Facebook page
The Okanagan Falls Volunteer Fire Department. (Facebook)
South Okanagan fire crews battle two blazes one-after-another

The two fires were likely caused by discarded cigarettes according to the fire department

Richmond RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng said, in March, the force received a stand-out number of seven reports of incidents that appeared to have “racial undertones.” (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
‘Racially motivated’ incidents on the rise in B.C’s 4th largest city: police

Three incidents in Richmond are currently being invested as hate crimes, says RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng

Most Read