Bolin says that housing of construction workers is an important issue for Fort St. John. The City believes 90 per cent of the workforce will call Fort St. John home, not 60 per cent as estimated by B.C. Hydro.
“The City feels the population projections used to anticipate housing requirements is not reflective of what will occour and therefore the housing requirements are underestimated,” he states. “The City feels the housing impacts presented by B.C. Hydro do not represent the current situation within the City of Fort St. John.”
Bolin says that the city expects to see a peak population in 2019 of 1634 people. That figure is significantly higher than Hydro’s estimate in the EIS of 852. He says “The housing facts presented by B.C. Hydro do not represent the current situation. 2011 is used as a reference year for much of the housing demand analysis. At that time the housing market was relatively softer than it currently is and consequently the projected housing demands are felt to be very understated. In contrast the community is experiencing extremely an low vacancy situation.”
The housing situation currently makes it difficult to find new workers to come to Fort St. John. Bolin says the issue would get worse if construction were to proceed.
“At current levels of housing demand experienced in Fort St. John without Site C, the community is experiencing difficulty attracting service industry workers. This situation would be exacerbated by Site C.” He says.
Bolin recommends Hydro take a number of steps in order to have a better understanding of housing issues in Fort St. John and to help with the burden by: developing new housing impacts with the city to more accurately illustrate the consequences to affected communities, prepare a plan to minimize impacts to the rental market in terms of affordability, availability and liveability, require B.C. Hydro to work with the City to develop energy efficient housing, require Hydro to develop methods of shift arrangements and worker housing compensation packages to the majority of workers take residence in camps, and to spend more time planning based on how the market is currently and not from two years prior.
Hearings are continuing today and will once again focus on the local and socio-economic impacts if construction on the Site C dam is allowed to begin.