Start date on Site C still up in the air

Traditional drummers led an anti-Site C rally in Fort St. John in December of 2013.

More than six months after the provincial government construction approval, there was confirmation Tuesday of provincial government ministerial approval of 24 conditional work permit applications for the Site C dam project.

Forests Minister Steve Thomson has issued a clarifying statement confirming 45 applications were initially submitted, but a number of them were deferred to allow more time for First Nations consultation.

It’s still not clear when the work will actually begin, and efforts to contact BC Hydro’s Dave Conway this week have so far been unsuccessful, leaving us, with what he told us, last week.

“It’s not our intent to do any work until sometime in July, probably mid-July,” Conway said.

“That type of work would be initial mobilization, site preparation, things like fencing, getting security down to site.

“We still have the main civil works contract (to award). We have four shortlisted proponents for that and that’s the actual contract for the construction of the dam. We hope to name a preferred proponent this fall.”

Hydro preceded yesterday’s release with one on Monday on a new province-wide poll showing strong levels of the support for the project.

59 percent of those polled favored construction, another 22 percent indicated they would do the same under certain circumstances, and the opposition to the project was said to be only 17 percent of the 1,038 people surveyed.

About 303 of them were in the north/northeast region, where outright support was 51 percent, conditional support again 22 per cent, and the opposition up to 26 per cent.

Meantime, a series of related events could now unfold within the next couple of weeks including the possible start of construction, the 10th annual Paddle for the Peace protest event this Saturday, and the federal court challenge by Treaty 8 First Nations and the Peace Valley Landowners Association beginning July 20.

This after Metro Vancouver board members voted last Friday in favor of a two-year construction moratorium, and for project reviews by both the BC Utilities Commission and the Agricultural Land Commission.

That has prompted Rob Botterell, the PVLA general counsel to suggest“This permitting decision shows the provincial government’s disdain for BC ratepayers.”

He added: ”BC Hydro’s own analysis shows a two-year delay will save BC ratepayers about $200 million.”

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