B.C. Green Party leader accuses premier of lack of transparency over Site C

·2 min read

B.C. Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau accused the government Monday of a lack of transparency over the Site C dam, after Premier John Horgan announced last week additional studies had been undertaken on the $10-billion mega-project.

Horgan said last Thursday he was awaiting both the report written by former deputy finance minister Peter Milburn and two additional geotechnical reports written by experts from outside B.C., before making any decisions on the dam being built near Fort St. John.

Milburn was appointed by the NDP government in July 2020 to review Site C because of concerns over project risks, construction delays and rising costs.

Two weeks ago, Energy Minister Bruce Ralston said he would not discuss the report's findings before first sharing them with cabinet and the premier.

Furstenau says she hadn't heard about the commissioning of additional geotechnical stuides and wonders how long it will take for Milburn's report to be made public.

"I expect that, like so many other aspects of this project and the way the government has treated it, that it will be quite a while before I or the public sees it," she told Carolina de Ryk, host of CBC's Daybreak North.

Ben Nelms/CBC
Ben Nelms/CBC

Horgan said Site C dam construction will continue until a decision is made.

West Moberly First Nations Chief Roland Willson says the government should immediately suspend all work on the dam, which involves diversion of the Peace River and would flood parts of the First Nation's traditional territory.

West Moberly is party to a lawsuit arguing that Site C irreparably harms its way of life and breaches its treaty rights. The lawsuit seeks compensation or an order to shut it down and return the river valley to its natural state.

In September 2020, Willson teamed up with First Nations leaders and other concerned British Columbians to sign an open letter asking for the province to appoint an independent team of three experts to assess all known geotechnical problems and determine whether they can be fixed, and at what cost.

Andrew Kurjata/CBC
Andrew Kurjata/CBC

Furstenau says independent experts need to be involved.

"Doubling down on bad decisions is a tendency on projects like this," she said. "I would hope that with some independent assessment of these geotechnical risks and the safety risks that this dam would pose, that there will be some very serious thought given to the dam."

Site C dam construction is scheduled to be complete in 2024 or 2025.

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