Truck hauls material across temporary bridge built across the Peace River for construction of the Site C dam, January 2017. /BC HYDRO

Site C dam project to miss river diversion deadline

Delay to add $610 million, estimate now near $9 billion

B.C. Hydro contractors have run into “geotechnical and construction challenges” that mean the Site C dam project will not be able to make its target of diverting the Peace River in the summer of 2019.

B.C. Hydro president Chris O’Riley confirmed the delay in a letter to the B.C. Utilities Commission, estimating an extra cost of $610 million that brings the total estimate to $8.9 billion for the most expensive construction project in B.C. history.

O’Riley said there is enough money in the project’s contingency fund for the cost, and a “one-year float” in the project schedule means it can still be completed as scheduled by November 2024. Other risks remain, including a road realignment to avoid evicting the last two holdout farming couples who live on the narrow riverside land and have already been paid in an expropriation to make way for the dam.

“Due to the project’s complexity, we expect to continue to face risks in other areas, including our second largest procurement (i.e. the generating station and spillway) that remains open and the highway realignment,” O’Riley wrote. “We will work to mitigate those challenges.”

The project is undergoing a review by the commission on the orders of Premier John Horgan, who made it a prominent issue during his years as NDP opposition leader. Under a tight deadline of Nov. 1 to make recommendations to the B.C. cabinet, the commission has already noted that Site C has been drawing heavily on contingency funds to deal with a tension crack in the riverbank and other issues.

Energy Minister Michelle Mungall said the delay is not a result of the NDP government’s review, ordered after former B.C. Hydro CEO Jessica Macdonald was fired this summer. The new government has commissioned reports on the cost of delaying or abandoning the project, which O’Riley says should continue after two years of work and nearly $2 billion spent.

“Despite the challenges we have encountered and the risks that remain, our analysis continues to confirm that completing Site C as planned is still the most cost-effective option for our customers,” O’Riley said. “Suspending or terminating and finding the power we need from other sources – which carries its own set of uncertainties – would cost billions more than completing Site C.”

BC legislatureSite C

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

Just Posted

Wet’suwet’en herreditary chiefs meet with provincial, federal ministers

Neither party speaking on the groundwork laid for tomorrow’s talks

Coastal GasLink agrees to two-day pause of pipeline construction in Morice River area

Work will stop once Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs begin talks with province and feds

RCMP cease patrols on Morice West Service Road

Withdrawal opens door for talks today between hereditary chiefs, province and federal gov

COLUMN | Waste carts

Columnist Andre Carrel talks about garbage collection in Terrace

Officials for Mills Memorial Hospital replacement project named

Project is estimated to cost $450 million

Clothing, jewelry, purses: RCMP ask court about disposal of evidence in Robert Pickton case

Pickton was sentenced to life with no chance of parole for 25 years for the murders of six women

Ryan nets hat trick in return as Senators beat Canucks 5-2

Ottawa winger received assistance for admitted alcohol problem

Speaker ‘will not tolerate illegal activity’ on B.C. legislature grounds, says chief of staff

Chief of staff to the B.C. speaker Alan Mullen says situation with demonstrators appears ‘fluid’

MPs to examine privacy implications of facial-recognition technology used by RCMP

The MPs will look at how the technology affects the privacy, security and safety of children

Dates back to 2009: Calgary police lay charges in fraud involving semi-trucks

Three people from Calgary are facing charges that include fraud over $5,000

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs optimistic ahead of talks with feds, province

Discussions with provincial and federal governments expected to start later today

‘The project is proceeding’: Horgan resolute in support of northern B.C. pipeline

B.C. premier speaks as talks scheduled with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs

BREAKING: Kelowna RCMP to further investigate 12 sexual assault cases, create sexual assault unit

Recommendations come five months after it was revealed 40% of sexual assaults were deemed ‘unfounded’

Most Read