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

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

The Kampe Estate across from the Channel has been bought by a developer who wants to put up two towers. (Brennan Phillips Western News)
Residents concerned over plans for Kampe property

Some residents were not happy to hear about plans for two six-storey apartment buildings

Penticton Vees continue their winning streak carrying a 5-0 win title as of Sunday night's hockey action. (Cherie Morgan/Cherie Morgan Photography)
Penticton Vees continue winning streak

Sunday night’s 6-1 win has them with five in a row since the start of the season

Mainly clear and sunny skies are expected for the Okanagan-Shuswap region this week. (Maxpixels photo)
Warm, sunny week ahead in Okanagan-Shuswap

Daytime highs will reach the low 20s with mainly clear skies this week

The City of Penticton will offer large item garbage collection later this month. (Black Press file photo)
Penticton to offer large item garbage collection

Items will be collected April 19 to 23

These nails were collected off the Campbell Mountain bike trails in Penticton this weekend. Someone placed them all over the trail. (Facebook)
Hundreds of nails placed on popular Penticton bike trail

A mountain biker took to Facebook to warn others about the nails

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 6, 2020. Top Tory leaders of past and present will speak with supporters today about what a conservative economic recovery from COVID-19 could look like. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
O’Toole to vote against Conservative MP’s private bill on ‘sex-selective abortion’

Erin O’Toole said he supports a woman’s right to choose and will personally vote against the private member’s bill

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

President Dan Kelly said it is crucial to maintain programs to help businesses to the other side of the pandemic

The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians says that includes attempts to steal Canadian research on COVID-19 and vaccines, and sow misinformation. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
Intelligence committee warns China, Russia targeting Canadian COVID-19 research

Committee also found that the terrorist threat to Canada has shifted since its last such assessment

Parliament Hill is viewed below a Canada flag in Gatineau, Quebec, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. A new poll suggests most Canadians are feeling more grateful for what they have in 2020 as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions increased slightly in 2019: report

2019 report shows Canada emitted about one million tonnes more of these gases than the previous year

A car sheared a Hydro pole and the driver was pinned by a fence pole on 43rd Avenue Saturday, April 10. (Carmen Jaster photo)
Suspected impaired driver ‘lucky to be alive’ after crash in Vernon yard

Impaired driving investigation underway after driver shears Hydro pole and narrowly misses being impaled

A crane stands in the middle of a fire-ravaged Glenmore Road construction site on Thursday, April 8. (Aaron Hemens - Capital News)
Evacuation order remains in effect around burned Kelowna construction site

Assessment of potentially risky crane to take place this afternoon

Dr. E. Kwok administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a recipient at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to register people ages 40+ for COVID-19 vaccines in April

Appointments are currently being booked for people ages 66 and up

Interior Health improves access to mental health supports amid COVID-19 pandemic. (Stock)
Interior Health connects people to mental health resources amid COVID

310-MHSU line receives positive feedback in early months of rollout

Part of the massive mess left behind in a Spallumcheen rental home owned by Wes Burden, whose tenants bolted from the property in the middle of the night. Burden is now facing a hefty cleaning and repair bill as a result. (Photo submitted)
North Okanagan landlord’s home trashed by tenants

Spallumcheen rental rooms filled with junk, human and animal feces; landlord scared to rent again

Most Read