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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Premier John Horgan and Minister of Energy, Mines, and Low-Carbon Innovation, Bruce Ralston, paid Fort St. John an unusual visit to tour the $16-billion construction site of the Site C dam, the third hydroelectric project on the Peace River, over the last few days.

Horgan arrived for a quick tour Wednesday and left the same day. Ralston stayed for a more in-depth tour of the complicated site and will leave later Thursday.

The visit was the first of its kind for the premier who took the helm of the province in 2017– and with it the massive, eternally over-budget, and controversial dam he promised to cancel during his campaign– had yet to be north of Prince George. 

Though novel, the fact that this was the premier’s first visit past the 53rd parallel was not what made it unusual. 

Previous visits by ministers have been accompanied by official notice of the trip, if not a meeting with the local MLA, according to North Peace MLA Dan Davies.

There is a way that these visits are done that recognize the region’s place as part of the province, and part of this is reaching out to the local representative.

“It’s important,” Davies said, “when you know that the premier is the premier of British Columbia, all four corners. There’s a role and responsibility, I think, to have those courtesy outreaches to the local MLA.”

Site C is a source of concern to locals for a variety of reasons, including environmental concerns, its ever-expanding budget, and timelines for completion, and its relations with local Indigenous communities.

Davies wants to know when and how the project will be completed.

“We’re seeing [Site C] go from eight and a half billion now to 16, and I’m still hearing there’s some issues down there. So I would ask about some of the parameters that they can put in place.” 

Construction of Site C began officially in 2015 and was over 55 per cent completed last December. The plan was originally proposed, along with the other dams along the river, in 1968. 

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Grace Giesbrecht

Grace Giesbrecht is a news reporter for who recently graduated from Trinity Western University with a bachelor of arts in Media + Communications. She was born and raised just outside of Fort St. John. She began reporting for her university’s student newspaper and interned with Ottawa Life Magazine where she developed a passion for asking questions, telling stories, and the written word. In her free time, you can find her drinking coffee, snowboarding, or reading novels.