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Is Site C Canada's last megadam?

Premier Christy Clark talks about the struggles to launch LNG and why she thinks Site C will be the last of its kind in Canada
Premier Christy Clark speaks with reporters following a speech at a pro-LNG rally in Fort St. John. The Alaska Highway News caught up with the Premier for an exclusive interview on the struggle to get LNG off the ground and the Site C dam.

Premier Christy Clark predicts the $8.8-billion Site C dam planned for the Peace River will not only be the last major dam of its kind for B.C.—but all of Canada.

In an interview with the Alaska Highway News last week, Clark said governments are facing increased pressure when it comes to massive industrial projects such as Site C, one of the most expensive public projects in modern history.

The main civil works on the dam—estimated at $1.75 billion—is expected to ramp up in the coming months, while engineers began site testing along Highway 29 this week to prepare for realignment of the road, sections of which will be inundated by the dam’s reservoir.

“I think it will be the country’s last major dam,” Clark said.

“It’s getting harder and harder to build dams in the country. The folks who would say ‘no’ to everything are getting more and more active all the time. It’s just getting harder and harder for governments to say yes to very difficult projects like this.

“And there were a lot of people who told me that we should not approve Site C, for all the typical reasons. We went ahead with it despite the fact it was hard. But I think it’s getting harder and harder for politicians to get the courage to confront the forces of no,” she said.

Clark was in Fort St. John on Wednesday, April 20, to deliver a speech to LNG supporters at Centennial Park.

Two days later, BC Hydro President and CEO Jessica McDonald was in the city to tour the dam site, sign the Site C community measures agreement with the city, and help cut the ribbon on the city’s new micro-hydro station in the Old Fort neighbourhood.

McDonald stopped short of saying Site C would be the last megadam in Canada, but did concede it’s the last major dam planned for the BC Hydro system.

“It’s an important choice and its been a difficult choice with a lot of study, a lot of careful thought into whether this is the right project for us right now,” McDonald said.

“But it will be the last dam for our system. It’s an important thing to recognize. I can’t speak for other jurisdictions and the plans that they will have. Manitoba and Quebec have hydroelectric backbones in their system like us. What they will choose in the future I can’t speak to.”

Quebec is currently building a 1,550-megawatt dam on the Romaine River, estimated at around $8 billion. Manitoba, meanwhile, continues to move ahead on the $6.5-billion Keeyask dam, a 695-megawatt project, however, it has suspended plans for the $10.7-billion Conawapa dam, a 1,485-megawatt project. BC Hydro’s Site C dam is billed at 1,100 megawatts.

A full transcript of AHN’s interview with Clark can be found here, and the full transcript with McDonald can be found here.