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Site C Dam

The Site C dam is a proposed 1,100 megawatt hydro dam on the Peace River in northeastern British Columbia, Canada.

The dam has been proposed since the 1970s and, if built, would be the third dam built on the Peace River. With a price tag of $8.8 billion, the Site C dam is the most expensive public project in B.C. history.

The B.C. government gave Site C the go-ahead in December 2014, but the dam faced several court challenges from landowners and First Nations who oppose flooding 107 kilometres of the Peace River and its tributaries, putting valuable hunting, fishing and farming areas under water.

The B.C. government has argued the dam is the most cost-effective way to meet the province’s electricity needs and has rejected repeated calls for an independent review of costs by the B.C. Utilities Commission.

Harry Swain, the chair of the joint federal-provincial panel that reviewed the Site C dam, criticized the B.C. government’s actions on the dam in March 2015, in comments called “unprecedented” by environmental law experts.

Construction started on the dam in fall 2015 and B.C. Premier Christy Clark vowed to get the project past the “point of no return” before the May 2017 election. Protesters prevented logging at historic Rocky Mountain Fort for two months, but BC Hydro won an injunction against them in early March and the protesters removed their camp.

The courts dismissed legal challenges against the dam, but questions about the violoation of treaty rights and the need for the electricity remain. In the summer of 2016 the Trudeau government issued permits allowing construction to move ahead.

The Site C dam became a major election issue in the May 2017 B.C. election, with the B.C. NDP vowing to send the Site C dam for an independent review by the B.C. Utilities Commission if elected. The NDP were sworn in as the new government of British Columbia on July 18 and sent the dam for an expedited review by the B.C. Utilities Commission shortly after. A final report released Nov. 1 found the project is behind schedule and over budget and could be replaced by alternatives at a similar or lesser cost.

The B.C. government announced it will proceed with Site C on December 11, 2017.

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