Construction in the Peace River bed began last winter

Site C a lone bright spot for northern B.C.

Nearly 80 per cent of 1,447 people working on Peace River dam are B.C. residents, says Energy Minister Bill Bennett

With drill rigs at a standstill awaiting liquefied natural gas export projects, the start of the Site C dam is keeping the lights on for B.C. workers who would otherwise be joining other westerners in the unemployment line.

Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett announced Wednesday that there are 1,547 people now working at Site C, the third hydroelectric dam on the Peace River, and nearly 80 per cent are B.C. residents.

“So all of the dire predictions that this project was somehow going to have to be built by those from other provinces, temporary foreign workers, etc., have proven to be baseless predictions,” Bennett said.

It is slightly ahead of schedule and on budget, with more than $4 billion in contracts let to build the main civil works and the turbines and power facilities. Completion is expected in 2024, after the river is diverted near Fort St. John and the earth-filled dam and powerhouse are constructed in the riverbed.

Bennett insisted the Site C project is not accelerated for the political purposes of the B.C. Liberals, who are seeking a fifth term of majority government in May 2017.

A growing population and economy, plus a push to shift to electric cars and other fuel reduction strategies are all dependent on increased use of electricity, he said.

BC Hydro CEO Jessica McDonald said it has proven to be “an ideal time” to build Site C, with interest rates at historic lows and workers available nearby due to downturns in petroleum and mining industries.

Bennett said one of the remaining risks to the project budget and local employment is if the rest of the economy improves and competition for skilled workers increases.

B.C. Supreme Court and Federal Court decisions have upheld the province’s ability to proceed after aboriginal consultations.

The West Moberley and Prophet River First Nations have applied for review of the provincial permits awarded to BC Hydro, and an appeal of one of the earlier cases is also ongoing.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

VALLEY SENIORS: A second chance comes with enough memories for two

The Dietrich family makes its mark on Abbeyfield House in Port Alberni

Inquest into death of Jocelyn George postponed due to COVID-19

Coroner’s inquest into 2016 death of Port Alberni woman was supposed to start July 6

Port Alberni’s Joe Hill celebrates 90th birthday with waves through a window

Retired accountant receives best wishes via Zoom, meets newborn great-grandchild

Alberni Golf Club reopens with new COVID-19 rules

J and L Mixed Scramble kicks off 2020 season

Help is available for Port Alberni businesses restarting after COVID-19 closures

Popular food truck finds a new location on Johnston Road

VIDEO: Injured bald eagle rescued in B.C. First Nations community

Bird suspected injured in fight, whisked off to Coquitlam rehab

An ongoing updated list of Alberni Valley events affected by COVID-19

Has your event been cancelled or postponed? Check here

Toronto Raptors’ Ujiri says conversations about racism can no longer be avoided

Thousands have protested Floyd’s death and repeated police killings of black men across the United States

B.C.’s Central Kootenay region declares state of emergency, issues evacuation orders

The evacuation alert covers all areas except the Cities of Castelgar and Nelson

‘I’m afraid’: Witnesses of wolf attack on senior near Prince Rupert worried about safety

Frank Russ shows where the unprovoked wolf attacked his father

Protesters prepare to rally against racism in front of Vancouver Art Gallery

Rally is in response to the deaths of black Americans and a Toronto woman

Man dies in ATV accident south of Nanaimo

Incident happened on backroad Friday night in Nanaimo Lakes area

Protesters rally against anti-black, Indigenous racism in Toronto

Police estimated the crowd to be between 3,500 and 4,000 and said there was no violence

Feds earmark $1.5M to support recovery of B.C., Indigenous tourism

B.C. money will be split between Vancouver Island and Indigenous tourism

Most Read