City wants more information on Site C work camp, policing study

Siobhan Jackson (left) and Dave Conway from BC Hydro at city council June 22.

BC Hydro officials gave an update on the Site C dam development at city hall Monday afternoon, but councillors and administrators were left wanting more.

Both Mayor Lori Ackerman and City Manager Dianne Hunter urged Hydro to promptly arrange a pair of meetings between the city and Two Rivers Lodging Group and a RCMP consultant hired to examine the need for new police resources in the city and region caused by the dam’s construction.

Since the project received official provincial approval to proceed in December of last year, the flow of information on the project has slowed, Hunter told Site C representatives Dave Conway and Siobhan Jackson.

“There’s been limited engagement with the community and the City of Fort St. John,” Hunter said.

Hunter said the city has no indication when Two Rivers will begin construction on it’s proposed work camp, which will house up to 2,200 workers, and added the city has little information on the scope of the camp and how it will operate.

The city is also eager to meet with RCMP Staff Sgt. Rod Carlson, who was hired last October on a one-year term to examine the need for more officers and new enforcement strategies to keep the peace during construction.

Ackerman requested both a meeting and a copy of the draft report of Carlson’s findings, expected before his term expires this fall.

Both Ackerman and Hunter noted the city has not seen a boost to its provincial complement of officers for more than 20 years. Ackerman said 75 per cent of the current RCMP workforce are dedicated to city enforcement.

“The impact (of the dam) is on the shoulders of the city,” Ackerman said.

“The last thing we want to do is drive a nail in another coffin and send the city spinning into a tailspin because our officers are dealing with impacts from the dam.”

Jackson, socio-economic and heritage manager for Site C, told council she would share the city’s requests, and committed to restarting a liaison committee between local governments, Hydro officials, and builders selected for the project.

Conway stopped short of revealing the start date for much of the preparatory site work expected to begin this summer, saying “construction will start summer as early as this July” but noted there is no date for when shovels will hit the ground.

Ongoing archaelogy and wildlife studies are already underway in the dam’s proposed flood zone along the Peace River. Tenders have been awarded to clear 620 hectares of forest along the south bank of the river, and worker accommodation.

Procurement and tendering is still underway for site powering and land clearing on the north bank of the river, which Conway hopes will be finalized in the “near future.” Procurement is also underway for road improvements for Old Fort, and the 240 and 269 roads, along with the six 183-megawatt turbines that will be installed in the dam.

An announcement on the main civil works contractor who will build the dam — measured at 60 metres high and a kilometre long — will announced this fall, said Conway.

Hydro cannot do any works within the river until it receives authorizations and permits under federal fisheries and navigable waters legislation, Conway said.

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