An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
THE SITE C DAM was always a failure waiting to happen and it looks like the wait may be over.
Premier John Horgan has hired more experts to look into whether continuing work on the gigantic white elephant on the Peace River is going to be feasible.
A previous expert, former deputy finance minister Peter Milburn, was to review the status of the project in view of geotechnical issues related to the dam’s unstable foundation. His report has arrived and Premier John Horgan now says Milburn never had the “capacity” to address safety issues.
A mystery solution has been proposed by BC Hydro and, thus, new experts hired to evaluate it. All will be revealed when their reports are in, promises the premier.
This has prompted Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau to suggest the Milburn report “has been used as a smoke-screen to continue construction and avoid answering questions.”
Site C was never considered the best location, only the cheapest.
But it’s no longer cheap. The budget keeps getting bigger and bigger. It began at $8.8 billion when it got the green light from the BC Liberals, now sits at $10.7 billion, heading toward $12 billion and will surely go higher. The question is, how much higher before the plug is pulled.
Horgan has already passed on one opportunity. After opposing Site C, he reversed himself upon forming a minority government two elections ago.
If he’d stuck to his original position, bailing out would have been costly for taxpayers — about $2 billion wasted — but not as costly as it would be now, after $6 billion has been spent.
Such mega projects, this one included, are often spoken of in terms of the point of no return. In reality, there’s no such thing if a project isn’t the right one.
As it’s been throughout its history, it looks more than ever that Site C is the wrong project at the wrong time.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.