The December 11, 2017 decision by Premier John Horgan to proceed with the Site C dam was a shocking disappointment to many who helped the NDP and Greens form government last year. To those who were paying attention, and not benefiting from the gravy train, a decision to proceed was ludicrous in light of the findings from the recent BC Utilities Commission review of the project.
That decision was the incentive for the well-attended Site C Accountability and Action Summit held in Victoria in January 2018. https://sitecsummit.ca/
The two day event brought together energy experts and opponents of Site C from abroad.
That in turn sparked citizens in eight BC communities to organize a variety of Site C awareness events in conjunction with fundraising for the ongoing legal fight against the project. These events started in Nakusp on March 17, followed by Duncan, Sooke, Courtenay/Comox, Quadra Island, Nanaimo, Vancouver and ending on March 27 on Salt Spring Island. It is noteworthy that all but one of these communities are within NDP ridings'.
At around the same time there were a number of NDP announcements in regards to oil and gas issues that included: - The $6 billion LNG giveaway. - The electrification of remote upstream oil and gas facilities would continue. - A very limited review of fracking will take place that is unlikely to threaten that practice in BC. This all adds up to an incredible mix of subsidized electricity to the subsidized oil and gas industry in BC. It also shows more than ever just how connected the Site C dam is to the ongoing shale gas industry, and the desperate pursuit of a LNG industry. Of course when the sale of BC fracked gas to the Alberta tar sand industry is added to the mix, all of the above is also connected to the Kinder Morgan pipeline issue. In short, when it comes to the energy file in North East BC, Horgan is following and sometimes surpassing the Liberal direction. While it was understandable that Christy Clark would adopt such policies, it is shocking to see John Horgan double down on the same. The NDP campaigned on the sustainable and forward thinking “Power BC” platform. That has now been thrown under the bus, and what we are getting is not what the majority of supporters thought they were voting for.
So, it was therefore not surprising that the March Site C tour brought out large crowds with many disgruntled NDP supporters. As one of those invited to speak at these events, and having been to many similar events in the past, I was amazed by the level of participation, frustration and resolve. Although the NDP have made some good moves on other issues, it is very clear that the Site C decision in particular is simply not acceptable.
Energy Minister Michelle Mungall recently called BC Hydro “a mess”. She is right, and the NDP knew that long ago when in opposition. For them to now carry on with the Site C project that will make BC Hydro much more of a mess is ludicrous.
With the ongoing cost overruns and budget increases for the Site C dam, this project has a long ways to go before it is “past the point of no return”. With 20/20 hindsight, the folks from Newfoundland and Labrador would have gladly killed the Muskrat Falls dam at the $2 or $3 billion mark as we now find ourselves with Site C. While that is a sad statement, it is also encouraging for us. In some ways it really does not matter if this project is stopped by the courts, geotechnical issues, or politically. What is most important is that somehow it is brought to an end. The March tour made it very clear that there are many people focused on making that happen.
Regards, Ken Boon