12 December, 2017, 17:20 | Author: Darnell Patrick
VICTORIA-The B.C. government had no choice but to complete the Site C hydroelectric dam rather than absorb a $4 billion hit to its bottom line by cancelling the project, which would have jeopardized plans for more spending on schools, hospitals and bridges, Premier John Horgan said Monday.
The commission's report made no recommendations to government about its decision, but its report did question B.C. Hydro's demand forecasts and stated alternative power sources such wind, solar and geothermal generation could deliver similar benefits to Site C.
With 1,100 megawatts of capacity, the Site C dam will provide enough energy to power the equivalent of about 450,000 homes a year. "Our values that would be in the best interest of British Columbians - to make life more affordable, to ensure that the services people count on are there for them when they need them, to make sure that BC Hydro works for British Columbians, and also that true reconciliation with Indigenous people was part and parcel of our quest to create jobs in an environmentally sustainable way".
The province also risked a credit downgrade and debt-servicing costs of up to $150 million annually if the project was cancelled.
"There's no reason to continue while we're deciding this court case", he said. "We have deliberated and we have debated and at the end of the day we have come to the conclusion that although Site C is not the project we would have favoured, and it's not the project we would have started, it must be completed to meet the objectives of our government".
The decision on the project's future is one of the first major decisions that faced the minority NDP government.
They have been fighting the proposal since 2010, along with First Nations, human rights groups, political parties, and local community members.
Horgan said he has met with Indigenous groups, construction workers, environmental activists and residents about Site C. "This is a very divisive issue", Horgan said.
In the lead up to Horgan's decision, the two nations said finishing the now $10.7-billion dam would prompt a $1-billion lawsuit.
It was pushed past the point of no return, but no one listened. Cancelling it would have boosted Hydro rates and cost billions for no return.
Meanwhile, the Blueberry River First Nations says it was shocked by the decision.
The Wilderness Committee says they are outraged by the news that the NDP Government has given the "misguided" project the green light.
West Moberly Chief Roland Wilson said a BC Utilities Commission (BCUC) final report on Site C should give them ammunition with the courts.
And the provincial Cabinet's decision sailed straight into a potential legal challenge from the West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations, that declared their intent to launch civil litigation against Site C arguing it infringes their treaty rights. "Today's announcement by the NDP is the right decision", said Peace River South MLA Mike Bernier. The project is estimated to cost $10.7 billion when all is said and done.
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