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VIDEO: Site C Dam an ‘Economic Disaster,’ Says Former Premier Mike Harcourt

In a sit-down video interview, former B.C. Premier Mike Harcourt told DeSmog Canada the Site C dam, proposed for the Peace River, is “a bad idea” and should be abandoned immediately.

“Site C is going to be a disaster economically, environmentally, culturally for First Nations and shouldn’t be built,” Harcourt said.

Site C, originally projected to cost B.C. ratepayers $5.5 billion, is now estimated to cost $9 billion.

Harcourt said Site C follows a long history of hydro project cost overruns.

“The average overage cost of dams worldwide over the last 70 years have averaged 90 per cent overage. So you can assume Site C is going to cost, probably, $15 billion to $17 billion dollars,” he said.

Site C Dam an ‘Economic Disaster’: Former Premier

The Site C dam is an “economic disaster” that could end up costing B.C. more than $15 billion, according to former Premier Mike Harcourt in this new video interview. Rather than wasting money on power we don't need, Harcourt says B.C. should cut its losses and get building infrastructure we DO need like schools, transit lines and bridges. What do you think?Read more on DeSmog Canada: http://bit.ly/SiteCDisasterDon’t miss out: http://bit.ly/DeSmogNewsLearn more about the Site C dam: https://thenarwhal.ca/site-c-dam-bc

Posted by DeSmog Canada on Thursday, March 2, 2017

“I think economically it’s just not going to cut it.”

The crux of Harcourt’s criticism of Site C, a project first proposed in the 1980s, is the lack of growth in electricity demand in the province.

Demand for electricity in B.C. has been flat over the last 11 years, Harcourt said.

“In that sense you don’t need it, there’s not the demand. Economically you’re going to be bankrupting BC Hydro and seriously harming the credit of British Columbia.”

That could deter businesses from operating in B.C., he said, all when there is no need for the power.

The lack of customers for Site C electricity was evidenced in Premier Christy Clark’s suggestion the power could be sold to Alberta to electrify the oilsands.

Harcourt said the idea is similar to the B.C. Liberal’s promise to create a liquefied natural gas empire..

“It’s like the LNG pipe dream,” he said.

“I haven’t heard any expression of interest from the Alberta government and the oilsands industry in doing that. And what would the cost of the transmission line be on top of the $15 billion to $17 billion that the dam would cost?

“It’s a weak version of field of dreams: build it and hope, hope, hope there will be a customer down the line.”

Ongoing construction of Site C should be immediately halted, Harcourt said. “It’s never beyond the point of no return.”

He pointed to an analogous example from the 1960s, when Harcourt was a lawyer for the Chinese community in Vancouver’s Chinatown and Strathcona. At that time there was a plan to build an eight-lane freeway along Stanley Park and through the east side of downtown Vancouver.

“We stopped it cold. But we still had part of it built, the Georgia Viaducts, and now we’re tearing them  — at the cost of $200 million — that last part of that really bad idea.”

The Site C dam is 18 months into construction on what is projected to be an eight-year timeline. So far, a worker’s camp has been built and a small section of river valley has been cleared. Ultimately, more than 100 kilometres of river valley, including valuable farmland, will be cleared to make way for the dam’s reservoir.

“It’s not too late,” Harcourt said.

Harcourt joins Harry Swain, the chair of the provincial-federal panel that reviewed the Site C dam, and former BC Hydro CEO Marc Eliesen in criticizing the project.

The provincial NDP has vowed to send the dam for an independent review by the B.C. Utilities Commission if elected in May.  The B.C. Liberals exempted Site C from a utilities commission review and Premier Christy Clark has vowed to get the project “past the point of no return” before the May 9th election.

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We hear it time and time again:
“These are the stories that need to be told and you are some of the only ones telling them,” John, a new member of The Narwhal, wrote in to say.

Investigating stories others aren’t. Diving deep to find solutions to the climate crisis. Sending journalists to report from remote locations for days and sometimes weeks on end. These are the core tenets of what we do here at The Narwhal. It’s also the kind of work that takes time and resources to pull off.

That might sound obvious, but it’s far from reality in many shrinking and cash-strapped Canadian newsrooms. So what’s The Narwhal’s secret sauce? Thousands of members like John who support our non-profit, ad-free journalism by giving whatever they can afford each month (or year).

But here’s the thing: just two per cent of The Narwhal’s readers step up to keep our stories free for all to read. Will you join the two per cent and become a member of The Narwhal today?

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