With British Columbia’s two largest political parties saying they’ll push ahead with construction of the Site C dam despite growing challenges, the controversial megaproject isn’t likely to be the big election issue its many critics would like.
In an open letter to B.C.’s political parties released Friday, the BC Hydro Ratepayers Association and the “Say No to Site C Dam” group said they had collected 5,000 signatures from people who want the project cancelled. “We are calling on all political parties, all candidates to take a unified stance, to stop Site C,” they wrote.
Earlier in the week, a group of 18 prominent British Columbians released a statement urging the government to reconsider continuing with the project. They included former BC Hydro president and CEO Marc Eliesen, former ICBC CEO Robyn Allan, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs’ Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, and Harry Swain, who chaired the Site C Joint Review Panel that completed its work in 2014.
“The prudent course of action — one that respects Indigenous and treaty rights as well as the interests of all taxpayers and hydro ratepayers — is to immediately suspend all construction activities at the project,” they wrote. “This includes the imminent and critical river diversion. It’s folly to allow that diversion to occur when geotechnical woes of unknown magnitude abound at the construction site.”
BC Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau, however, said construction definitely should be stopped before the river is diverted. “When you’re in a hole this deep, it’s time to stop digging,” she said. “It’s time to listen to the experts that don’t agree with you. It’s time to look at evidence and reality and make decisions based on that.”
Experts had been identifying geotechnical issues that would affect construction since well before 2017, Furstenau said. “From the very beginning the NDP have chosen to only listen to the experts that tell them what they want to hear on Site C,” she said. “It should have come as no surprise whatsoever that this is the situation we’re in right now.”
Furstenau said building the dam is really another way to subsidize the natural gas fracking industry, which will benefit from access to electricity from the project. “This is the wrong direction for our province. We should be investing in renewable energy, in a clean energy economy.”