An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
“I AM NOT HERE TO PUT BLAME ON ANYONE,” Premier John Horgan said as he provided his Site C update.
He didn’t have any good news to share on the struggling mega project on the Peace River. The cost estimate to finish it now sits at $16 billion, five times original estimates when it was first broached and up $6 billion since 2017.
And, of course, it’s expected to go even higher by the time it’s completed at least a year behind schedule in 2025.
Horgan, though, has doubled down. The project will go ahead because, he says, it’s in the provincial interest and killing it now would saddle taxpayers with too big a debt. This, after a series of reports on problems with the project including soil instability.
He’s fond of reminding us that it was the BC Liberals who launched the project, something he wouldn’t have done if he’d been in power at the time.
His newest decision to carry on with it has left the Liberals without much to say except to complain about delays. Horgan says B.C. will reap benefits from it for 100 years but it’s hard to convince British Columbians of that.
Horgan could have stopped the project several billion dollars ago but didn’t have the political courage to back up his election campaign rhetoric. Now, his arithmetic seems to make some sense — add $4 billion (the cost of shutting it down) to the $6 billion already spent, and why not just spend another $10 billion to finish it instead of losing that much by killing it off.
But that doesn’t take into consideration the fact he could have put a stop to the bleeding in 2017 when we were only $2 billion in the hole. His procrastination has cost us billions more and gotten us into something we can’t get out of.
The blame Horgan speaks of points directly back at him.
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.