Reaction swift as Site C final report released

The BC Utilities Commission release of its final report on the economics of the Site C dam has sparked discussion across the province about the future of the $9-billion project.

Suspending the project only to resume by 2024 is the "least attractive" of the options facing the new NDP government—a move that would add, at minimum, an extra $3.6-billion to the project's cost, the commission says.

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Cancelling the project altogether would add $1.8 billion in termination and site remediation costs. 

The commission says continuing construction will push the dam surpass the $10-billion mark in terms of cost while it cast doubts on BC Hydro's ability to bring the dam into service by November 2024.

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CLICK TO READ: BC Utilities Commission Inquiry Respecting Site C, final report

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Politicians and special interest groups have been quick to offer their views about the report and the project.

Here's a look at what people are saying about the report:

"Our government initiated the BCUC review of Site C to assist us in making the best decision for keeping BC Hydro rates affordable in the long term. The BCUC's findings are based on 620 written and 304 oral submissions from individuals and organizations, and thousands of pages of information on the project provided to the BCUC and made available to the public.

"I want to thank the BCUC, BC Hydro and all participants for their contributions and for completing the review under extremely demanding timelines.

"Now it is our turn, as government, to determine whether Site C is in the best interests of British Columbians, after considering the BCUC's findings and other issues outside the scope of this review."

—Michelle Mungall, B.C. Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources

"Today has been a long time coming. The BCUC has confirmed what we have said for many years: Site C is a financially reckless project that is not in the best interests of BC ratepayers. And that’s before we consider the many other significant adverse impacts of Site C on First Nations, agriculture, the environment and landowners. It’s time for the provincial government to terminate Site C.”

—Ken Boon, president, Peace Valley Landowner Association

“The Site C project provides a 100-year plan to provide reliable, clean energy while building the economy, allowing BC businesses to be competitive at a national and international level. Top of mind for the BC Chamber is the number of businesses connected with the Site C project, and the job creation possibilities that come with a project of this size. Approximately 2,000 people are working on the Site C project - with 1,800 people from BC alone - the economic impact is important to our prosperity."

—Val Litwin, CEO and President, BC Chamber of Commerce

“The writing is on the wall: the era of costly, environmentally-degrading, and human rights-destroying megadams is over. The report released today by the BCUC shows that Site C is not in the best interests of British Columbians. The report confirms that the Site C dam cannot be completed on time nor on budget. Already, the project is looking at a price tag of between $10 and $12.5 billion and is unlikely to be completed by 2024. This report shows BC Hydro’s numbers simply cannot be trusted."

—Galen Armstrong, Sierra Club BC

"The report lacks the clarity that workers, their employers, the investment community and taxpayers have been waiting for. If anything, the report raises further concerns about the value of this regulatory review. With billions already invested in Site C, stopping now would be the most damaging option possible for taxpayers. We're urging the BC government to make the right decision on behalf of workers, their communities and all British Columbians by completing the project."

—Rieghardt van Enter, BC regional director, Progressive Contractors Association of Canada

“Finally an independent competent body, the BCUC, has been allowed to review the Site Cdam project. Now we have their report and it’s a clear description of an expensive white elephant publically funded mega-project gone rogue. When you combine this report with the unacceptable impacts to farmland and First Nations rights, this dam project needs to stop."

—Joy Foy, national campaign director, Wilderness Committee

"BCUC does not put sufficient weight on move by Vancouver to ban natural gas and other fossil fuels – Vancouver alone will double its electricity demand in next three decades… Opponents’ alternative power costing leaves out BC Hydro costs for network upgrades and transmission lines and costs of getting approvals of local communities, First Nations, and various regulatory agencies. It won't be easy to get wind farms, solar farms or geothermal built anywhere in BC."

—Independent Contractors and Businesses Association

“Supporting the development of smaller renewable projects presents a significant economic opportunity for all corners of British Columbia. In recent months our caucus has met with numerous communities across the province who are proposing exciting projects like wind and geothermal that would generate jobs and innovation in their communities using private sector investment rather than billions in taxpayer funds. “Cancelling Site C will take real leadership. I hope that the B.C. NDP will seize the incredible opportunity before us to develop a 21st Century vision for the future of energy in this province.”

—Andrew Weaver, leader, BC Green Party

“We need to remember that the joint provincial-federal review of Site C made environmental assessment history in Canada, due to the unprecedented number and scope of significant adverse environmental impacts. Site C would decimate habitat for migratory birds, destroy moose and deer calving grounds, and have major impacts on fisheries, including bull trout. For Indigenous people, fish and wildlife and food security are the same thing. The B.C. government must now take all information into account, including the economic capital provided by nature in the Peace.”

—Candace Batycki, program director, Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative

“Thousands of workers and their families are worried about their futures and deserve a decision from this government – I’m calling upon them to render a decision in favour of Site C by the end of the month. The failure to proceed with Site C would result in writing off $4 billion in lost construction costs and millions more dollars in broken contracts. It would also leave British Columbia without a secure and reliable source of green, renewable energy."

—Mike de Jong, MLA and leadership candidate, BC Liberals

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