The controversial Site C hydroelectric dam in B..C., now pegged at $10.7 billion, will be allowed to complete. The B.C. government said in its announcement that cancelling the project would add billions to the province’s debt and result in rate hikes or reduced funds for schools, hospitals and important infrastructure.
“Megaproject mismanagement by the old government has left B.C. in a terrible situation,” said Premier John Horgan. “But we cannot punish British Columbians for those mistakes, and we can’t change the past. We can only make the best decision for the future.”
The Site C project is currently two years into construction and $2.1 billion has already been spent. Site C’s budget was originally $8.3 billion.
Had the NDP government decided to cancel Site C, it would have taken on the project’s $3.9 billion in debt, made up of $2.1 billion already spent and another $1.8 billion in remediation costs. As public debt, it would become the responsibility of BC Hydro customers or taxpayers.
“We will not ask British Columbians to take on $4 billion in debt with nothing in return for the people of this province and, even worse, with massive cuts to the services they count on,” said Horgan.
Horgan also announced a new Project Assurance Board for oversight that “will provide enhanced oversight to future contract procurement and management, project deliverables, environmental integrity, and quality assurance – all within the mandate of delivering the project on time and budget.”
The government will also be pursuing an alternative energy strategy to put B.C. more firmly on the path to green, renewable power that helps the province exceed its climate goals.
The Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) welcomed the news that work on the Site C clean energy project will continue.
“With so much at stake for our province, better late than never for John Horgan and the NDP government to support Site C,” said Chris Gardner, ICBA president.
“This entire process and all of the uncertainty it caused was completely unnecessary. In the past four months, we have seen a rushed review and needless NDP-Green politicking create uncertainty and confusion that put this clean energy project, and the thousands of jobs it supports, at risk for no reason.”