Truck hauls material across temporary bridge built across the Peace River for construction of the Site C dam, January 2017. /BC HYDRO

Site C dam project to miss river diversion deadline

Delay to add $610 million, estimate now near $9 billion

B.C. Hydro contractors have run into “geotechnical and construction challenges” that mean the Site C dam project will not be able to make its target of diverting the Peace River in the summer of 2019.

B.C. Hydro president Chris O’Riley confirmed the delay in a letter to the B.C. Utilities Commission, estimating an extra cost of $610 million that brings the total estimate to $8.9 billion for the most expensive construction project in B.C. history.

O’Riley said there is enough money in the project’s contingency fund for the cost, and a “one-year float” in the project schedule means it can still be completed as scheduled by November 2024. Other risks remain, including a road realignment to avoid evicting the last two holdout farming couples who live on the narrow riverside land and have already been paid in an expropriation to make way for the dam.

“Due to the project’s complexity, we expect to continue to face risks in other areas, including our second largest procurement (i.e. the generating station and spillway) that remains open and the highway realignment,” O’Riley wrote. “We will work to mitigate those challenges.”

The project is undergoing a review by the commission on the orders of Premier John Horgan, who made it a prominent issue during his years as NDP opposition leader. Under a tight deadline of Nov. 1 to make recommendations to the B.C. cabinet, the commission has already noted that Site C has been drawing heavily on contingency funds to deal with a tension crack in the riverbank and other issues.

Energy Minister Michelle Mungall said the delay is not a result of the NDP government’s review, ordered after former B.C. Hydro CEO Jessica Macdonald was fired this summer. The new government has commissioned reports on the cost of delaying or abandoning the project, which O’Riley says should continue after two years of work and nearly $2 billion spent.

“Despite the challenges we have encountered and the risks that remain, our analysis continues to confirm that completing Site C as planned is still the most cost-effective option for our customers,” O’Riley said. “Suspending or terminating and finding the power we need from other sources – which carries its own set of uncertainties – would cost billions more than completing Site C.”

BC legislatureSite C

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ucluelet chamber of commerce searching for new executive director

“Lara did a phenomenal job and we will really miss her.”

Offleash dogs put shorebirds resting on Tofino beaches in jeopardy

“It’s a free-for-all. Most of the violators are locals, I believe, but there are visitors as well.”

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 20 to 26

Rabbit Day, Hobbit Day and One-Hit Wonder Day are all coming up this week

Tofino’s Race for the Blue fishing derby casts philanthropic net

‘Thankful Thursday’ garners over 7,200 cans of tuna for local food banks

Tofino General Hospital Foundation raising funds for new equipment

“The doctors and nurses are worked off their feet.”

COVID-19: 4 more deaths, 366 new cases in B.C. since Friday

A total of 8,208 people in B.C. have tested positive for COVID-19 since January

Group wants Parliament, courts to hold social media to same standard as publishers

Daniel Bernhard made the comments shortly after Friends of Canadian Broadcasting released a research paper

B.C.’s Chase Claypool catches first NFL touchdown pass

Abbotsford grad establishes new record for longest scrimmage TD by a Canadian

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. has highest number of active COVID-19 cases per capita, federal data shows

B.C. currently has 1,803 active cases after weeks of COVID-19 spikes in the province

181 days gone: Family continues to look for man last seen in RCMP custody 6 months ago

Brandon Sakebow’s last known location was leaving Mission RCMP cell, police say; family has doubts

Most Read