Opinion Column


BC Hydro hasn’t made a convincing case for pushing costly dam onto taxpayers

By Laila Yuile, City Hall

A review of the Site C Dam proposal for Northern British Columbia was released Thursday by the Joint Review Panel. (WILDNERNEESSCOMMITTEE.ORG)

A review of the Site C Dam proposal for Northern British Columbia was released Thursday by the Joint Review Panel. (WILDNERNEESSCOMMITTEE.ORG)


Columnists Laila Yuile and Brent Stafford battle over the issues of the day. The winner of last week’s duel on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program was Laila with 71%.

This week’s topic:

Considering the results of the Joint Review Panel report on BC Hydro’s Site C dam, should government approve the project?

A police officer I know once told me that if two people saw the same crime in progress from beginning to end, he would still likely get two different stories from the witness statements.

Likewise, instead of the “clear path to a green light” for the Site C dam that Brent believes the Joint Review Panel report provides, after reading it in full, I see nothing but a giant red light.

There are several great concerns noted in the 471-page report, but one of several key points that should throw up red flags for all British Columbians is this: “The panel concludes that the proponent has not fully demonstrated the need for the project on the timetable set forth.”

The proponent is BC Hydro, a Crown corporation that seems to be used to further the BC Liberals’ political agenda more than it is used to provide affordable energy for British Columbians. The Site C proposal is a perfect example of this.

Read Brent Stafford's column

Over the years, the public has been presented with a changing list of justifications for the Site C proposal. From powering homes in British Columbia, to being essential to power LNG development in the province — a Premier Christy Clark favourite — to exporting power to drought-stricken California, the reasons seem to keep changing.

The questions keep mounting as to why the BC Liberals and BC Hydro are pushing this proposal so hard on a public already burdened by rising hydro costs.

In addition to the review panel’s valid concern that BC Hydro hasn’t even proven the province needs this project on the timeline given — or at all, in my opinion — it raises compelling concerns about BC Hydro’s calculations on the project’s costs, recommending the project be sent to the BC Utilities Commission for an in-depth examination.

The project’s estimated cost as per BC Hydro is nearly $8 billion. But according to a new scientific study by researchers from Oxford University — comparing 245 projects around the world — large dam projects are uneconomical, with cost overruns reaching between 27% and 96% on all projects.

Would Site C be any different from any other BC Liberal boondoggles plagued with cost overruns — such as the Vancouver Convention Centre or the BC Place stadium roof? I think not.

If you think your BC Hydro bill is high now, you haven’t seen anything yet. Who do you think is going to end up paying for it all?

Laila Yuile is an independent writer, blogger and political commentator. You can read her blog at lailayuile.com.






Who wins this week's duel on the Site C Dam project?

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