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

Crews retrieved the overturned commercial truck from the crash scene on Friday, Nov. 20. Photo: Betsy Kline
UPDATE: Kootenay woman dies in Genelle collision

The incident occurred Thursday, Nov. 19.

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
104 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

IH is reporting the new numbers since Friday, Nov. 20

Trail RCMP seized illicit drugs, cash and a weapon following a traffic stop in West Trail on Nov. 18. Photo: Trail RCMP
West Kootenay man, woman face drug charges after traffic stop

Police report that three types of illicit drugs were seized as well as cash and a Taser

USA Today ranked the City of Rossland as it’s top Canadian ski town, and no. 2 in all of North America, while Nelson was ranked no. 10 overall. Photo: Jim Bailey.
Rossland and Nelson rank among top North American ski towns

USA Today ranked two West Kootenay communities among Top 10 Ski Towns in North America

Photo: Trail Times
Castlegar man and woman arrested in downtown Trail

Police allege the truck they were in had a stolen licence plate on the rear

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 cross a street in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, November 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. reports 17 COVID deaths, 1,933 new cases as hospitalizations surge over the weekend

There are 277 people in hospital, of whom 59 are in ICU or critical care

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers at the project site in Kitimat. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
Forty-one positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak in Kitimat

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

Workers arrive at the Lynn Valley Care Centre seniors home, in North Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday, March 14, 2020. It was the site of Canada’s first COVID-19 outbreak in a long-term care facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Rapid tests ‘not a panacea’ for care homes, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. lacks capacity for daily tests of thousands of workers

(Delta Police Department photo)
Cannabis edibles found in Halloween bag lead B.C. police to illegal lab

Delta police arrested a man and a woman while executing a warrant at a residential property Nov. 20

A woman being arrested at a Kelowna Value Village after refusing to wear a mask on Nov. 22.(@Jules50278750/Twitter)
VIDEO: Woman arrested for refusing to wear mask at Kelowna Value Village

RCMP claims the woman was uncooperative with officers, striking them a number of times and screaming

B.C. Liberal MLA Shirley Bond questions NDP government ministers in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 19, 2020. (Hansard TV)
Cabinet veteran Shirley Bond chosen interim leader of B.C. Liberals

28-member opposition prepares for December legislature session

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, November 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-19: What do rising positivity rates mean for B.C.? It’s not entirely clear

Coronavirus cases are on the rise but the province has not unveiled clear thresholds for further measures

A rider carves a path on Yanks Peak Saturday, Nov. 21. Two men from Prince George went missing on the mountain the next day. One of them, Colin Jalbert, made it back after digging out his sled from four feet under the snow. The other, Mike Harbak, is still missing. Local search and rescue teams went out looking Monday, Nov. 23. (Sam Fait Photo)
‘I could still be the one out there’: Snowmobiler rescued, 1 missing on northern B.C. mountain

As Quesnel search and rescue teams search for the remaining rider, Colin Jalbert is resting at home

More than 70 anglers participated in the bar-fishing demonstration fishery on Sept. 9, 2020 on the Fraser River near Chilliwack. DFO officers ticketed six people and seized four rods. A court date is set for Dec. 1, 2020. (Jennifer Feinberg/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Anglers ticketed in Fraser River demonstration fishery heading to court

Sportfishing groups started a GoFundMe with almost $20K so far for legal defence of six anglers

Most Read