The Peace River Regional District says there are “very serious concerns” with a BC Hydro plan that could see hundreds of trucks per day hauling rock materials down to Site C.
The 85th Avenue industrial lands next to Fort St. John are being excavated for glacial till, needed to construct the earth fill dam core and approach channel lining.
A five-kilometre-long conveyor has already been built to ship the materials down to the Peace River, but BC Hydro is seeking amendments to its environmental certificate to haul the materials by by dump truck if the conveyor is shut down.
The PRRD says the plan would put up to 122 trucks per hour on the Old Fort, 240 and 269 Roads between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., except during school bus hours. Hauling would occur at least one day per month, and for up to seven months per year from 2021 through 2023.
The PRRD says the traffic increase works out to one truck passing any point on the roads every 30 seconds, and creates serious concerns about traffic, dust, noise, nuisances, and increased disturbance to residents.
“This is a huge, huge change, not just to our [community measures agreement] negotiations, but also to the impact to my residents," said Brad Sperling, board chair and director for Area C, at Thursday's meeting.
The PRRD is already pressing BC Hydro for an agreement to address growing construction impacts on local services, including "substantial financial compensation" for landfilling and recycling, and lost property tax revenue.
Many directors, including those negotiating with BC Hydro, seemed caught by surprise by the proposed plan
Directors expressed concerns over dust suppression, traffic safety, emergency access, and the condition of the roads once the hauling program is completed.
"Most people feel there will be negative impacts here," said Taylor Mayor Rob Fraser.
CAO Shawn Dahlen said the PRRD's current requests to BC Hydro “will be recast in light of the more pronounced effects which will be felt through additional hauling.”
BC Hydro spokesman Dave Conway says the conveyor will still move the vast majority of materials to the dam site, but that till materials will need to be hauled "when the conveyor is undergoing maintenance or in the event it’s not able to operate due to unforeseen circumstances."
The PRRD has been given until Jan. 29 to provide its feedback.
Chetwynd Mayor Allen Courtoreille raised concerns about the environmental impacts of the hauling.
“The number one topic in their agenda was to have clean energy,” said Courtoreille. “They do throw a grenade into everything here.”
Electoral director Dan Rose said he wanted more information about the proposal.
“When you start to talk about those numbers, the economic impact to the community would be huge. There’s a lot of trucks sitting around that might not be doing much, that might be looking at this as a huge opportunity,” said Rose.
“It would be interesting to know if there’s opportunity to mitigate some of the concerns that might arise. When you talk about 122 trucks per hour … you’re talking about a lot of trucks. And if they’re local trucks, that’s a pile of money in our communities."
Read a background brief prepared by the PRRD on its requests to BC Hydro below:
Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at firstname.lastname@example.org.