The last updated estimate of the cost of the Site C dam was in 2021 with then Premier John Horgan announced he had managed the project budget from the initial $6.8 billion to an astounding $16 billion.
Try to get information about the project and you can’t because the BC NDP government has it cloaked in Site seCrecy!
Energy minister Hon. Josie Osborne claims the project isn’t affected like all the other mega-projects underway in the province, Trans Mountain and CGL pipeline all dramatically over budget, yet somehow not Site C.
In addition, we learned that a couple dozen bear dens are going to be flooded when they begin flooding the Peace. And, the electricity it is generated is going to be sucked up by the fracking and gas liquefaction industry so they can speciously claim they are green.
So how much will it cost, when will the flooding begin, and will this government be up front about the true cost of this subsidy to oil and gas borne by BC Hydro ratepayers.
A. Olsen: You know who’s not feeling a squeeze on their budget? B.C. Hydro and Site C. How much? Well, we actually don’t know because it’s been cloaked in Site C-crecy. That’s a slogan that even the B.C. United can use royalty-free. I dare them to ask a question about Site C, but anyway….
Mr. Speaker: Shhh.
A. Olsen: Secrecy and hypocrisy every step of the way for this project. The Site C dam will flood 128 kilometres of the Peace River, destroying some of Canada’s best farmland, habitat for more than 100 species at risk, Indigenous burial sites and traditional hunting, trapping and fishing grounds.
When in opposition, the B.C. NDP government adamantly opposed the project, with former Premier Horgan saying that Site C sucks. But he changed his mind, and he forged ahead. The project is a year behind schedule, and the last real number that the former Premier gave us was that the $6.8 billion project is now costing $16 billion. But is it $16 billion, $17 billion, $20 billion? Nobody really knows. The price of everything around us is going up. It’s hard to believe that the price for Site C stayed the same.
To the Minister of Energy, just how much is this dam costing us?
Hon. J. Osborne: I know that the member understands that we know our power demands going forward in this province are significant and that, on a call for power coming this spring, we are going to be relying on Site C coming online. This is important because people are making the decision to switch the way they transport themselves, the way they heat their homes, and they’re relying on B.C.’s clean electricity.
Site C remains on track to be completed within the approved $16 billion budget, but let’s not forget that the old government rushed to push Site C past the point of no return, and that cost billions of dollars without proper oversight.
Mr. Speaker: Shhh.
Hon. J. Osborne: We were left to manage this project that we inherited. We know we need the electricity. We’re going to be using it to make the switch that people want to make, B.C.’s clean electricity.
Mr. Speaker: House Leader of the Third Party, supplemental.
A. Olsen: This government has managed the price right through the roof. That’s all that they’ve done is manage the price of this dam right through the roof. And who’s on the hook? The ratepayers are on the hook. British Columbians are on the hook.
You know what? The minister can say that British Columbians are going to get this energy, but we know who’s going to receive the electricity from this dam, and that’s going to be their buddies in the LNG industry. That’s who’s going to receive it. Actually, the frackers right now — what they want is B.C. Hydro to build power lines to their fracking site so that they can call their fracking operations green.
I was there last summer. I toured Site C, and I thank the minister for helping set that up, and I saw what was flooded and what will be lost forever. The environment, First Nations, farmers and the wildlife in the Peace are all paying the unaccounted costs for this project. I just learned that 24 active bear dens are going to be flooded very shortly, and those who are trying to protect the bear dens are struggling to find out when exactly the dam will be flooded.
So, my question is to the minister responsible for energy. When will B.C. Hydro begin flooding the dam and filling the reservoir?
Hon. J. Osborne: Right now, B.C. Hydro is making a determination as to when they will be able to flood the reservoir and begin the work of activating the turbines and delivering clean electricity to British Columbia.
B.C. Hydro is reaching out to communities, working with First Nations — speaking to people about what that means and what they can expect to see as the flooding begins. As soon as we have that information, we will share it with the member and all members of this House.