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Site C construction could start as soon as July 8

Construction on Site C won't be starting next week, but when it does, you'll know. Following up on comments earlier this month about the dam's start date, Site C spokesperson David Conway said construction on the $8.

Construction on Site C won't be starting next week, but when it does, you'll know.

Following up on comments earlier this month about the dam's start date, Site C spokesperson David Conway said construction on the $8.8 billion hydroelectric project will not begin in the first week of July, adding July 8 is the earliest construction could start.

Communities, First Nations and other impacted groups would be given advance notice, he said. No firm date has been set.

Since the dam was approved in December, the B.C. Government has said it wants to kick off construction this summer. The dam could have started as of June 21, had all the required permits been obtained and reports filed.

A raft of those reports were filed on June 5, opening a 30-day window for construction to begin. Those reports are mandated by the dam's Environmental Assessment Certificate and require BC Hydro to file plans on minimizing the dam's environmental impacts with First Nations, local governments, and provincial and federal ministries.

Those include plans to manage erosion and sediment into the Peace River, minimize harm to fisheries, protect groundwater and air quality, and set guidelines for blasting at rock quarries. Impacted groups were given a chance to comment on the specific proposals ahead of construction.

Hudson's Hope Mayor Gwen Johansson said her office received the last of those reports on June 5.

"Once they issue those final plans that's the trigger that allows them to begin the 30 days," she said, the minimum notice required to begin construction. 

"They can start construction in 30 days. Does that mean they will? No."

Earlier this month, Conway said construction could begin as early as July, but did not give a firm date. He said BC Hydro would not be waiting on the outcome of any of the seven lawsuits aimed at stopping the dam. The Peace Valley Landowner Association and a group of First Nations begin their federal court challenges July 20.

Another group at odds with BC Hyrdo over the dam is the community of Old Fort Road. Residents there are asking for compensation due to a 2,200-person worker camp they say will have negative impacts on their community.

According to a Ministry of Forests spokesperson, the dam still requires "approximately" 45 permits.

reporter@dcdn.ca