Diversion tunnels have been completed to redirect the Peace River during low water this summer, in one of the most critical steps to completing the Site C dam, March 2020. (BC Hydro)

Diversion tunnels have been completed to redirect the Peace River during low water this summer, in one of the most critical steps to completing the Site C dam, March 2020. (BC Hydro)

Open letter urges B.C. to pause work at Site C dam to review costs, geotechnical issues

Dam has been affected by possible COVID-19 delays

A letter addressed to NDP Leader John Horgan is urging the province to halt the construction of the Site C dam while geotechnical issues are investigated.

The open letter, which includes signatories such as former BC Hydro CEO Marc Eliesen, Chief Roland Willson of the West Moberly First Nations and 16 other former CEOs, scientists and Indigenous leaders, says that the “problem-plagued” project needs to stop construction.

“The Site C project is years away from completion, is mired in problems that may be unfixable, and confronts new, potentially horrendous cost over-runs,” the letter states.

The letter cites geotechnical problems revealed in July, when BC Hydro CEO Chris O’Riley wrote of “a project risk” to do with the right bank. O’Riley said that “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.”

The CEO’s letter also cited financial hurdles brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to the worldwide health crisis, the first generating unit of the Peace River dam was scheduled to go into service in late 2023, with a final in-service date in 2024.

“While we remain on schedule to achieve river diversion in 2020, there is uncertainty with the project’s schedule and in-service date. This is primarily due to our ability to re-start and accelerate work that was halted due to the pandemic,” O’Riley wrote in July.

Monday’s (Sept. 28) open letter asks the government to “immediately suspend all construction activities at the project” while giving Site C special advisor Peter Milburn, a former B.C. government bureaucrat with a background in civil engineering, time to accomplish three tasks.

The open letter’s signatories want Milburn to appoint a panel of three professionals with no link to Site C to do geotechnical assessment. Secondly, the letter asks for that information to be public prior to the government making a decision to restart the project.

“This is crucial because to date the public’s trust in the Site C project has been eroded by a lack of transparency,” the letter states. The last ask is for the public to get a “full accounting” of the costs to date associated with Site C, as well as of the upcoming costs required to complete the project.

The cost of the Site C Dam was pegged at $7.9 billion in 2011 but has grown to $10.7 billion. The dam has also been the subject of legal battles, with the Prophet River First Nation settling one in early August.

READ MORE: Agreement between province, BC Hydro, First Nation, ends legal fight over Site C

READ MORE: BC Hydro’s Site C set back by COVID-19, foundation changes


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusIndigenousSite C

Just Posted

Parking time is to be limited in one spot on 9th. (Houston Today photo)
District seeks grant to update bylaws

And decides on 15-minute parking

Bench installation on 9th Street is another sign the project is nearing completion. (Houston Today photo)
Progress being made on 9th Street finish

District aiming for June completion

File photo
Mental health checks proving valuable

Police officer and nurse team up each week

The two billboards for the Cow Moose Sign project arrived in Topley last week with Justin Cradock, owner of Pitbull Trucking Ltd. and the area is now getting prepared for installation. (Dan Simmons photo/Houston Today)
Cow Moose sign project billboards arrive in Topley

Two billboards for the Cow Moose Sign project have arrived in Topley… Continue reading

File photo
Snow clearing changes would cost money, survey finds

Council being asked to give direction

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

People shop in Chinatown in Vancouver on Friday, February 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver community leaders call for action following 717% rise in anti-Asian hate crimes

‘The alarming rise of anti-Asian hate in Canada and south of the border shows Asians have not been fully accepted in North America,’ says Carol Lee

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Dr. Steve Beerman, of Nanaimo, shows off his Dr. David Bishop Gold Medal, awarded for distinguished medical service. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Queen presents Vancouver Island doctor with award for global drowning prevention

Dr. Steve Beerman receives Royal Life Saving Society’s King Edward VII Cup at virtual ceremony

Former UFV Cascades wrestling coach Arjan Singh Bhullar is now the ONE heavyweight champion after defeating Brandon Vera via TKO in round two on Saturday in Singapore. (ONE Championship)
Former UFV wrestling coach wins MMA championship

Arjan Singh Bhullar captures ONE heavyweight title, first Indian origin fighter to achieve honour

Most Read