Environment Minister George Heyman, Premier John Horgan and Energy Minister Michelle Mungall announce that B.C. Hydro is proceeding with construction of the Site C dam, Dec. 11, 2017. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

Environment Minister George Heyman, Premier John Horgan and Energy Minister Michelle Mungall announce that B.C. Hydro is proceeding with construction of the Site C dam, Dec. 11, 2017. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

B.C. VOTES 2020

Site C actions, costs won’t be known until after B.C. election, Horgan says

Peace River diverted for construction of reinforced dam base

The Peace River’s flow is now diverted through twin tunnels for the main riverbed works of B.C. Hydro’s Site C dam, opening a dry area of the riverbed for construction of “foundation enhancements” that were identified by geological mapping as a change to the project in late 2019.

The river diversion proceeded on schedule starting Oct. 2, but the additional work and COVID-19 delays mean the completion date and additional costs remain uncertain, NDP leader John Horgan acknowledged in his final campaign event in Vancouver Thursday.

This week B.C. Hydro announced three positive tests for COVID-19 on the site near Fort St. John, and the start of burning wood debris captured from the river to keep diversion tunnels clear.

Newly sworn in as premier in 2017, Horgan called for the B.C. Utilities Commission to make a rapid review of the project, which by then had $4 billion invested in the long-considered third dam on the Peace River. That review was “inconclusive,” Horgan said, and the NDP government decided to proceed at a projected cost increased by $1 billion to $10.7 billion.

RELATED: Site C dam set back by COVID-19, foundation changes

RELATED: NDP government bails out B.C. Hydro for $1.1B debt

RELATED: After losing at every level, West Moberly sues again

B.C. Hydro’s annual report in July 2020 notified the government and public of the latest problems, including delays due to COVID-19 restrictions on the huge job site as well as the new geological issues. Before calling the election, then-energy minister Bruce Ralston appointed former deputy finance and transportation minister Peter Milburn to assess the project again.

“But now we are three and a half years later, and new evidence that was not presented at that time is being examined by Mr. Milburn,” Horgan said Oct. 22. “This is absolutely serious for Hydro ratepayers and for the project. I don’t want to diminish it in any way. But I don’t know until I hear from the experts what’s the magnitude of the problem, and what steps we need to take to protect British Columbians.”

In a July progress report to the B.C. Utilities Commission, B.C. Hydro CEO Chris O’Riley said the combined effects of COVID-19 and a series of construction issues have pushed the cost up by an amount not yet known. Those included changes to the main civil works contract, increased costs of reservoir clearing, power line construction and highway realignment, as well as the latest of a series of legal challenges from the West Moberly First Nations.

“Towards the end of December 2019, investigations and analysis of geological mapping and monitoring activities completed during construction identified that some foundation enhancements would be required to increase the stability below the powerhouse, spillway and future dam core areas,” O’Riley wrote in a letter to BCUC chair David Morton.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC politicsBC Votes 2020Site C

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

Just Posted

A woman wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 uses walking sticks while walking up a hill, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Interior Health reports 83 more COVID-19 infections overnight

46 cases are now associated with a COVID-19 community cluster in Revelstoke

Peter Beckett. ~ File photo
Supreme Court of Canada to decide if it will hear appeal in 2010 wife murder trial

Peter Beckett has stood trial twice for murder in connection with the death of his wife, Laura Letts-Beckett

Revelstoke City Hall. (File)
Revelstoke COVID-19 cases spike to 46

Mayor Gary Sulz expects positive cases to increase

Slocan Valley communities struggling with the need for high-speed internet should consider Kaslo’s model, according to the Kaslo infoNet Society. Photo: Black Press
Follow Kaslo’s lead for fibre service, says proponent

Tim Ryan of Kaslo infoNet Society says bringing high-speed internet to rural homes is possible

A tongue-in-cheek message about wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 on a sign outside a church near Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection count climbs back up to 656

20 more people in hospital, active cases still rising

The Walking Curriculum gets students outside and connecting with nature. (Amanda Peterson/Special to S.F. Examiner)
‘Walking Curriculum’ crafted by SFU professor surges in popularity

The outdoor curriculum encourages students to connect with the natural world

Interior Health said its new toll-free line will help people connect to health-care services. (File)
Interior Health expands toll-free line to improve access to community care

By calling1-800-707-8550, people can be connected to several health-care services

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

A sign is seen this past summer outside the Yunesit’in Government office west of Williams Lake reminding visitors and members to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
B.C. First Nation leaders await privacy commissioner decision on COVID-19 information

Release of life-saving data cannot wait, says coalition of First Nations

MLA Jennifer Whiteside is B.C.’s new minister of education. She is speaking out against Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld and asking him to resign. (Black Press)
New education minister calls on Chilliwack trustee to resign

Whiteside echoes former minister’s promise to look at options to remove Barry Neufeld

Tabor Home in Abbotsford. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
B.C.’s largest COVID-19 care-home outbreak records 19 deaths, 147 cases

Tabor Home in Abbotsford has been battling outbreak since Nov. 4

Most Read