No compensation agreement says City for impact on services during Site C construction

Diane Hunter is the City Manager for the City of Fort St. John. She says that strain on the services Fort St. John provides the public with is concerning during the construction process and as such the city must be compensated while the dam is being built.

“The direct impacts of the Site C project on the city’s services and finances during the construction phase is a major concern of the City. Council established a key position that was ratified by the community as a whole through an extensive consolation program,” Hunter explains. “It was determined that B.C. Hydro must provide an adequate, predictable and sustainable source of funding to the City in order to address impacts and to provide community benefits.”

She adds the impacts Site C will have on Fort St. John must not be absorbed by residents.

“There will be servicing and infrastructure costs attributable to Site C that will impact the city. The City believes that these costs can be determined and quantified,” she says. “These costs can’t be borne by the existing or future residents and businesses of the city as this would result in a major tax burden. If these taxpayers were to assume the entire tax burden they in fact would be subsidising the cost of the Site C construction.”

Hunter says that Hydro admits there will be changes to City services while construction is occurring, however the two parties do not see eye to eye when it comes to compensation for those changes.

“Both the City and B.C. Hydro agree that there will be impacts on city services and costs attributable to the incoming work force during the construction phase of the project. Despite efforts on both the part B.C. Hydro and the City we have not been able to come to an agreement on the extent of the financial impact on the city during the construction phase of the project, nor is there an agreement on the amount of compensation to be paid to the city for those impacts.”

Hydro counter offered with a proposal to pay the city one million dollars annually for eight years during construction. According to the City, Hydro came up with that figure based on forecasting property assessments for certain Hydro lands on the 85th Avenue industrial lands and did not mention compensation for infrastructure costs to the City or increased project related services.

Hearings continue tomorrow and will once again focus on the local and socio-economic impacts if construction on the Site C dam is allowed to begin.