Opponents of the Site C dam refuse to give up the fight

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      This weekend, members of the NDP provincial council received an eight-page letter from NDP members and supporters who disagree with the B.C. cabinet's decision to complete the $10.7-billion Site C dam.

      The letter, entitled "No Damn Site C!", was distributed at the council's February 3 meeting in New Westminster. (To read the letter, click the link under "downloads" on this page.)

      "No Damn Site C!" described how more than 400 political activists gathered in Victoria on January 26 and 27 at a Site C "summit". That led to a communiqué maintaining that the NDP cabinet's action was based on "erroneous advice".

      "The clear majority of those in attendance at the Summit voted for the NDP in the May election," the letter's signatories stated. "Most of the remaining voted Green."

      They criticized Attorney General David Eby's defence of the decision to complete the dam. He had earlier claimed that the cabinet was told that $3 billion to $4 billion in sunk costs and remediation expenses would have to be recovered from B.C. Hydro ratepayers or through an immediate provincial writedown.

      "That is simply not true," the signatories declared, "both the sunk and remediation costs can be amortized over time similar to the costs of continuing."

      In response, the NDP provincial council refused to endorse a motion resolving that the NDP urge the government to re-examine the Site C decision through the lens of its own Sustainable B.C. and PowerBC plans.

      Meanwhile, DeSmog Canada has reported that former B.C. Hydro president and CEO Marc Eliesen has sworn a 30-page affidavit ripping into the decision to build the Site C dam.

      "At no time between 1983 and August 2017 did BCUC, as an independent regulator, revisit and evaluation of the need for the Site C project, its impact on ratepayers, or whether it would be a preferred electricity project," Eliesen stated.

      Furthermore, he noted that the B.C. Hydro board decision in 1993 to reject the Site C dam "has proven sound".

      "The necessary experience and due diligence rigour required for managing a major hydro project such as Site C is deficient among the executive at BC Hydro," the former CEO claimed in his affidavit. "This is in part due to the fact that it has been more than thirty years since BC Hydro constructed a major generating station. The knowledge and expertise required, which formerly resided in the company, has retired or moved on."

      He predicted that Site C will likely cost "in the range of $12 billion or more" with at least a one-year delay in the project's in-service date.

      Eliesen has been retained by a law firm acting on behalf of the West Moberly First Nation in a court challenge against the approval of the project.

      Read the unedited communiqué issued following the January 26 and 27 summit:

      Victoria BC - Over 400 delegates attended the Site C Accountability and Action Summit to un-package the BC NDP’s Site C decision, uphold Indigenous rights and Treaty 8, examine the ongoing Site C train wreck, and to develop action plans to stop Site C.

      Experts with over 100 years of collective experience in energy economics concluded that the NDP government knew their decision to continue Site C was based on erroneous advice.  Contrary to the words of Premier Horgan and Attorney General David Eby, the facts are: 

      • Cancellation of Site C will not trigger an immediate 12% rate increase.
      • Cancellation will not incur a $3 to $4 billion write down.
      • Cancellation will not mean $125 to $150 million in new annual debt service and postponement of needed capital spending.
      • Cancellation will not cause a bond rating downgrade.
      • Cancellation will save $3.5 billion for other infrastructure.

      The Summit was advised that the cost of renewable energy has plummeted since the December 11th 2017 decision to proceed with Site C making any further attempt by the NDP to justify proceeding with Site C an exercise in futility.[1]

      The Summit was briefed on the clear and massive breach of West Moberly, Prophet River, and Blueberry Indian Band Treaty Rights and other Indigenous Rights that will occur upon flooding of the Peace Valley if Site C proceeds.

      The Summit expressed its strong support for Treaty 8 First Nations and First Nations in Alberta and the Northwest Territories impacted by Site C and the strategies, including legal action to stop Site C as soon as possible and before any flooding of the Peace Valley.

      The Summit concluded with a number calls for action.  The most urgent are listed here: 

      1. The Province of BC must honour and uphold our treaties with Indigenous peoples, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

      2. In response to the civil suits brought by the West Moberly First Nations, the Prophet River First Nation and the Blueberry First Nations, the Province of BC must instruct BC Hydro to stop work on Site C and walk away from the project.

      3. The Province of BC must release publicly the information relied upon by the Province of BC in making its decision to proceed with Site C on December 11, 2017.

      4. The Province of BC must direct that no public works contracts be granted to AECON if this corporation is to become a state-owned enterprise of the Government of China.

      5. The Province of BC must replace those responsible at BC Hydro for the mismanagement of the Site C project as described by Premier Horgan in his December 11, 2017 announcement to continue Site C

      6. The Province of BC must release all geo-technical studies, memos and emails relied upon to brief the Premier prior to his December 11, 2017 announcement to continue Site C as well as release any information on the geotechnical challenges held by BC Hydro that contradict the Premier’s public assurances that these challenges are not expected to be significant with regard to cost and delay.

      7. The Province of BC must release immediately its plan in relation to the Site C megaproject to preclude human trafficking and the violence against and murder and/or disappearance of women and children.

      8. BC Hydro must drop its strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) suit filed against individuals allegedly involved in peaceful protest against Site C on the banks of the Peace River in 2016.

      9. The Province of BC must pass anti-SLAPP suit legislation in the Spring 2018 sitting of the Legislature.

      10. The BC NDP Provincial Council meeting on February 2-4, 2018 must condemn the Government’s decision to proceed with Site C based on NDP values and commitments (given the information presently available to the public).

      [1] In January 2017, Alberta contracted new wind energy at  $37 per megawatt hour (MWh). In Colorado, recent bids for utility-scale solar PV came in at US $30 per MWh.  Based on the current $10.7 billion budget, BC Hydro Site C power is about $100 per MWh.