The B.C. government announced they will complete the Site C dam at a press conference Monday morning, revealing a new estimated cost of the project at $10.7 billion. The decision was made with the full approval of cabinet, reporters were told at a technical briefing at the B.C. Legislature.
“This has been a difficult decision,” Premier John Horgan said. “I’ve talked to many British Columbians and I can say this is a very divisive issue. We have not taken this decision lightly.”
The government said they took the British Columbia Utilities Commission review of the project into consideration as they made their final decision, finding project completion was a more favourable decision over termination when considered from a ratepayer perspective.
Criteria for the decision included ratepayer impacts, fiscal risk, First Nations rights, carbon emissions and agriculture/food security.
At an early morning press conference, Rob Botterell, counsel for the Peace Valley Landowners Association said, “the NDP Site C review process turned out to be a sham.”
“The era of decision making in backrooms is over; this is the 21st century.”
Botterell added that his clients are not planning to accept the decision without a fight.
“My clients will never surrender the Peace Valley over such a flawed process,” he said. “My clients will continue to use every tool within Canadian law to prevent Site C from proceeding.”
Other landowner groups also attended the press conference to express their disapproval.
“The government turned a deaf ear to the BCUC findings, and worked to undermine the independent regulator’s findings,” Dr. Steve Gray, Chair, Peace Valley Solidarity Initiative, said. “If this is a decision based on the need to take climate action, Site C is the most expensive and environmentally destructive way to get there.”
Green Party leader Andrew Weaver, the support of whose caucus is essential to keeping the NDP government in power, has expressed his disagreement with the decision. In a tweet, Weaver suggested that Energy and Mines minister Michelle Mungall should be recalled by her constituents.
Let’s have a look what our energy minister said about Site C on July 9, 2016: https://t.co/vdBo4hVs7i I would suggest a recall campaign in Nelson-Creston would be in order if Site C is approved on her watch as energy minister. #bcpoli tweet
At the press conference, Horgan said he does not believe that disagreement will affect the long-term viability of the government. Horgan added that he does not believe he will lose members of his own caucus over the decision either.
In a follow up press briefing, BC Liberal MLA Mike Bernier for Peace River South stated, “It’s unfortunate we had to wait six months for what was the obvious choice.”
Bernier said the B.C. government considered information the BC Liberals had and realized the previous government had made the right decision regarding Site C.
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