BC Hydro says halting Site C would cost taxpayers $500 million? Not building it at all will save us over $8 billion dollars.

Sometimes, one woman can only take so much. And when I saw yet another headline last night blaring: 

“BC Hydro says halting Site C would cost $500 million”

I really and truly, had enough.

“A stop-work order for the Site C dam will cause “extreme prejudice” to BC Hydro at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars and a one-year delay in the construction schedule, the utility’s lawyer says.

Mark Andrews told a B.C. Supreme Court judge that critical milestones will not be met if an injunction is granted to a pair of First Nations.

“This injunction is going to drive a truck into the schedule of the project at this stage in particular,” Andrews said Wednesday.

The West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations are challenging the nearly $9-billion project by arguing they were not properly consulted before permits were granted for Site C, the third dam on the Peace River.

The Treaty 8 Tribal Alliance members say they will suffer “irreparable harm” if BC Hydro is allowed to start clearing thousands of hectares of old-growth forest.

They’ve asked a judge to block work authorized by specific permits.”


“The project is in the public interest because the dam’s power will flow to British Columbians, he said.

BC Hydro has said the dam is expected increase its energy supply by eight per cent, enough to generate electricity for about 450,000 homes annually.”

This kind of stuff makes my blood boil. Let me tell you why.

Site C is a project that has been on the books for longer than many British Columbians will remember. Over the years ,the reasons for it have changed a few times in order to try and justify the project. Then Premier Clark picked it up and said  LNG plants will need the energy, so we must build Site C.

However when it was revealed that LNG plants could burn their own gas to generate power – Clark admitted to Bloomberg Site C was not needed to power up those LNG plants we still don’t have – the reason for building it changed again. Now, Clark said, British Columbians will need that clean energy! We must build Site C!

It’s also been said we could sell the energy elsewhere… but read on.

What it comes down to, is that we still don’t need the electricity from that project,and there are still very serious questions  about the rationale and the costs associated with it.

Site C was already turned down once by the BC Utilities Commission in the eighties because it simply wasn’t needed.

Not surprisingly, last year the  federal-provincial joint review panel recommended  that the B.C.  government send the project to the B.C. Utilities Commission for review on the economics and cost of the project. That is what the BC Utilities Commission exists for. It reviews all the evidence provided and determines if it is accurate and if the benefits outweigh the negatives.

But no, the province  did not, and will not send the project to the BC Utilities Commission and actually exempted it when they passed the Clean Energy Act in 2010. The province knows full well that there stands a very strong likelihood the BC Utilities Commission would say the project still isn’t needed at this point in time, or that the costs associated with it outweigh any rationale for building it.

The BC Utilities Commission might also ask the province why  it still hasn’t investigated alternatives to the dam as was recommended the last time this project went before them.

We don’t need Site C, when BC Hydro has a capacity to install another unit at the Revelstoke dam right now. https://www.bchydro.com/energy-in-bc/projects/revelstoke-unit-6.html

The provincial government has ignored not only the federal-provincial review panel, but politicians,industry experts and the people whose homes and land will be flooded if the project proceeds.

Each of you should be asking yourselves why this project is being pushed through without this review being done.

This is why the BC Utilities Commission exists!!  There is so much concern over this project that now the BC Auditor General will be conducting a review “to investigate “whether BC Hydro’s recommendation and government’s decision to build Site C was supported by sufficient information and analysis to demonstrate that it would meet government’s economic, social and environmental goals.”

In an exclusive interview earlier this year, the chair of the review panel had this to say:

“In his first interview on the Site C dam, the chair of the federal-provincial panel appointed to review Canada’s largest current infrastructure project said the B.C.government was unwise to green-light the project without a review by the B.C.Utilities Commission and would have been better off to delay the decision by a few years.

There’s a whole bunch of unanswered questions, some of which would be markedly advanced by waiting three or four years,” Harry Swain told DeSmog Canada. “And you’d still be within the period of time, even by Hydro’s bullish forecasts, when you’re going to need the juice.”


You shouldn’t take decisions before you need to,” Swain said. “That means you’ll have much more information when you finally have to take a decision. Building electricity facilities in advance of need only costs money.”

The panel’s report predicted that in the first four years of production, the Site C dam would lose at least $800 million because BC Hydro would generate more power than the province needs at a cost of $100 per megawatt hour — when the market price for that power is currently $30 per megawatt hour.

Wisdom would have been waiting for two, three, four years to see whether the projections they were making had any basis in fact,” Swain said. “And they would have been able to make a better-informed decision and not necessarily a more expensive one.”

In its report, the panel wrote that it couldn’t conclude that the power from Site C was needed on the schedule presented, adding: “Justification must rest on an unambiguous need for the power and analyses showing its financial costs being sufficiently attractive as to make tolerable the bearing of substantial environmental, social and other costs.”

Some of the questions that still need to be answered, according to Swain, include the real cost and availability of alternatives, how B.C. should use its Columbia River rights, how British Columbians will react to increased electricity prices (which could decrease demand) and how the province’s liquefied natural gas industry will develop.”

That interview is a must read and you can read part 1 here: http://www.desmog.ca/2015/03/10/exclusive-b-c-government-should-have-deferred-site-c-dam-decision-chair-joint-review-panel

And part 2 here: http://www.desmog.ca/2015/03/11/dereliction-duty-chair-site-c-panel-b-c-s-failure-investigate-alternatives-mega-dam

This matters.

Homes are going to be flooded,some that have been farmed and owned by three generations of the same family.They are harvesting  musk melons right now – this is fertile land, ready for crops and in this day and age the government should be promoting it, not trying to flood it.

The valley and river is also used by many including First Nations, for hunting and fishing. It has archaeological significance. Even the BC government Parks has designated the Peace River as one of its Heritage Rivers,extensively sharing how unique and diverse the river below the other two dams really is: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/heritage_rivers_program/bc_rivers/peace_river.html

site C heritage river

It really matters that when the province or a crown corporation undertakes any big project, they ensure every check and balance is done and that has not been the case with Site C. And while this time it is Site C being rammed through, next time it might be a project that impacts your life more directly.

So, when I see news reports with BC Hydro warning that costs will increase by $500 million if work is halted, I see a scare tactic designed to sway the public into pressing for this project to move ahead.

What should be said is that not building it will save taxpayers far more than $8.5 billion dollar cost of construction… but also the  potential yearly loss of $800 million because the cost to produce the energy is more than current rates. Our hydro bills would likely go up.

It’s just wrong on so many levels. I urge everyone to write the premier and every Liberal MLA and demand this project be put before the BC Utilities Commission for the full review it should have had in the first place.

This weeks column for 24Hrs Vancouver: Site C- Case hasn’t been made.

This week’s topic: Did the provincial government make the right decision approving the Site C dam?

I agree with Brent that British Columbia does have a real opportunity in front of it right now, but it has nothing to do with energy. The controversial and confusing decision to approve the Site C dam on the Peace River provides ample opportunities to examine and highlight just how this government operates when it comes to projects of immense proportion.

Contrary to what some might think, I’m not “anti-everything.” I stand firmly in support of responsible development and when multi-billion-dollar projects are proposed, it’s critical to ensure proper process and independent examination of the proposal have occurred. It’s not in the best interests of the province or taxpayers to charge ahead without being absolutely sure this project is justified and costed correctly.

Sadly, in the case of Site C, that hasn’t occurred and there are serious concerns surrounding the justification and the cost of the project. Over the last couple of years, the premier has presented an ever-changing litany of reasons why Site C is needed.

It started off on the books as a project for B.C.’s power use, but for much of her time in office, Premier Christy Clark has billed Site C as essential to power the various LNG project proposals – we know that’s incorrect, since any plants would most likely be operated on power produced in a natural gas-fueled power plant. Then, during the final day of the public hearings in front of the Joint Review Panel, BC Hydro said the power from Site C would be perfect for export to California.

Read Brent Stafford’s column here.

However, in the announcement last week, Clark said this dam will provide future generations with good clean power for a century. Who’s right? It’s easy to see where the concern is with so many conflicting justifications for a project that the government exempted from an independent review by the BC Utilities Commission…

READ the rest of this week’s column, comment and vote at: http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/2014/12/21/site-c-case-hasnt-been-made

The Commonsense Canadian gets to the heart of the matter on Site C approval.

There’s really not much I could add to this, Damien Gillis has wrapped this up so well – I highly recommend reading this fine post. Here are some excerpts:

” …the Liberal Government excluded the public’s independent energy watchdog, the BC Utilities Commission, from reviewing the project. The regulator was built precisely for this purpose: to examine proposed energy projects and plans based on their need and value to taxpayers and ratepayers. ”

“… the Liberal government set the rules for the review process, then broke them as soon as they became inconvenient.”

“At first, Site C was to power BC’s homes, but when we became a solid net exporter of power in recent years – according to BC Stats – the rationale morphed into powering energy-intensive LNG projects. But BC Hydro undermined that statement during the JRP hearings, saying it was instead to export excess power to California – likely a money-losing proposition for BC.

Then, just last week, Christy Clark went back on her LNG argument, admitting that Site C was notin fact required for that industry. ”

*Read the rest of this post, HERE: http://commonsensecanadian.ca/site-c-dam-govt-ignores-rules-faces-multiple-lawsuits/

My only addition would be to ask these two questions that I put forth yesterday, online:

Why is it that the province has the money for a project toppling the $8 billion mark, when mayors have been forced to propose an increase in the provincial sales tax in order to fund transit improvements?   ( meanwhile seismic upgrades to schools haven’t been completed, it was pointed out) 


Considering it has been accepted that temporary foreign workers would need to be used in part to build any LNG projects in the province, who exactly is going to be filling the alleged 10,000 jobs the premier has promoted this project would provide? 

“Christy Clark would do well to remember that Canada is a free nation…”

Late last week I was contacted by a new member of a local community association here in Surrey, who expressed great concern over this Tyee blog post: http://thetyee.ca/Blogs/TheHook/2014/09/29/Non-Profit-Attack-Petition/

Her concern of course,is that the potential for these proposed changes to be used to silence any group expressing concerns or opposition to, well, anything,  is very real.

In the nick of time, Sandy Garossino has posted excellent commentary that really gets to the ominous heart of the matter:

“B.C.’s Christy Clark government is proposing to overhaul the Societies Act, and they’ve distributed a snoozer of a White Paper to let you know all about it.

If you’ve dozed off already, WAKE UP, because there’s a massive zinger quietly planted deep inside. You can do something about it — more on that at the end of this post. But unmentioned in any preamble or executive summary, Section 99 allows any person (including corporations) to take any registered society to court that they believe is acting contrary to the public interest — whatever that is.

Here it is:

Complaints by public

99 (1) A person whom the court considers to be an appropriate person to make an
application under this section may apply to the court for an order under this
section on the grounds that a society

(b) is carrying on activities that are detrimental to the public interest.

In other words, environmental non-profit groups better watch their step because they’re in the cross-hairs. Premier Clark is handing the legal hammer to Enbridge, Kinder Morgan, ExxonMobil, Koch, Encana, Chevron, Sinopec, Suncor and the entire B.C. LNG sector to tie non-profits up in court for years.

Section 99 looks like Clark’s close advisor Gwyn Morgan drafted it up during half-time at last year’s Grey Cup. Not a single competent lawyer within the Ministry of Justice could say with a straight face that it’s constitutional. The clear intent is to silence and intimidate Canadian conservation and environmental non-profits with the threat of litigation. And if mere threat doesn’t work, this legislation enables the corporate sector to bludgeon them into lawsuit bankruptcy.

This proposal is one of the most ill-conceived and draconian initiatives to see the light of day in a modern democracy, and reveals the extent of Clark’s captivity by the oil and gas lobby. (And one more reason B.C. political leaders should be prevented from funding their election campaigns at the Petroleum Club in Calgary).

But as policy, it’s also breathtakingly stupid. As if B.C. doesn’t already have the mother of all court backlogs to cope with, the Clark government now proposes to fill up the system with disgruntled parents taking out their beefs in court against a minor hockey association or local elementary school PAC (parent advisory council). It will be open season on abortion clinics, LGBTQ organizations, and mosques. Don’t think for a minute that won’t happen.

The real backdrop, of course, is that the Harper government has been on a tear against environmentalists for years, muzzling our scientists and attempting to discredit Canadian environmental NGOs…”

Read the rest of this post here: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/sandy-garossino/bc-societies-act-christy-clark_b_5973568.html

Then fire off your email comments on what you think of this draconian proposal right away, because the public consultation period on this ends Wednesday October 15th. Yes, that’s right,it’s been open for comment since August.

Here is the link:  http://www.fin.gov.bc.ca/pld/fcsp/society_act_discussion.htm

Wake up and smell the coffee my friends.

** and if you still have the stomach for it after that, Sean Holman has an excellent read to follow up with this morning. http://seanholman.com/2014/10/13/scientists-arent-the-only-ones-silenced/

The world according to Christy Clark. Keep your ibuprofen handy

H/t to one of RossK’s readers who posted this link over in the comments section at his site.

Listening to the premier talk about her plans for the province is always entertaining, but where it gets really funny on this one is at the 5:20 minute mark, where she goes on about how all this LNG we are going to be producing, is going to get shipped to China and will be displacing ‘dirty coal’ …… yes, she really does say that: dirty coal.

Would that be the same ‘dirty’ aka thermal coal coming up from the US, to be shipped out of the newly approved and highly controversial coal facility at Surrey Fraser Docks to China, among other parts of Asia ? The one her government is so much in favour of?

Or all the thermal  coal we’ve been shipping from Deltaport and other terminals for years and years? And will BC stop shipping that thermal coal when ( and more likely if) BC LNG ever comes online? Not likely. So BC LNG is not going to do anything to make cleaner world in the air,least of which, in China.


That’s a facepalm moment if I ever saw one.

CAJ conference hosts first event open to public: “J-Fest” features journalist Lindsay Kines, editorial cartoonist Dan Murphy and documentary film-maker/editor Damien Gillis

CAJ Damien Gillis (2)Every year the Canadian Association for Journalists hosts a conference, and this years program includes an incredible evening of discussion open to the general public: J-Fest, a celebration of journalism that matters!

The Times Colonist’s Lindsay Kines led investigations into Vancouver’s missing women, the death of toddler Sherry Charlie and the treatment of the developmentally disabled.

Former Province cartoonist Dan Murphy’s pen has skewered politicians on both the left and right, telling truths the printed word can’t.

And filmmaker Damien Gillis’s new film Fractured Land is set to expose the dangers of natural gas development.

On Friday (May 9) at 7:00, these three journalists will talk about their work at J-Fest, a special event for the public organized by the Canadian Association of Journalists.

Hear about the story behind three of the biggest news stories in British Columbia, why editorial cartooning matters more than ever and the reason you should care about the fracking that’s happening in northern British Columbia.

They’ll be talking about the importance of their work – and why Canadians should care about it.

Because we aren’t talking about that, who else will?

Tickets are $5 and can be purchased online (www.caj.ca) or at the door.

What: J-Fest, featuring documentary filmmaker Damien Gillis, Times Colonist reporter Lindsay Kines and former Province editorial cartoonist Dan Murphy,

Where: Canadian Association of Journalists annual convention

Holiday Inn and Suites Downtown Vancouver (1110 Howe Street)

When: Friday, May 9 (7:00 p.m.)

Register at: http://www.caj.ca/?page_id=3728

 CAJ Dan Murphy (2)


**Updated : And would those “Foreign Trained Workers” be…. temporary, Harry Bloy?

They say one picture is worth a thousand words and if so, this screen shot from former MLA Harry Bloys business website tells a very interesting story.

In particular, this little gem Mr. Bloy shares, anecdotally from an employer:

” Workers from Asia have an excellent reputation of being experienced, dedicated and punctual. “We find the workers from Asia to be qualified. They come ready to work every morning and they are willing to work any extra hours. It is a pleasure to have them as part of the team,” says one of the employers”

According to Mr. Bloys business website, BC alone is facing a shortage of a million workers over the next 12 years. What makes this particularly interesting to me, is that Bloy was one of the figures involved in the Ethnic-gate scandal, and later resigned over an email he shared with the subject of a Vancouver Province news investigation.

On the ‘About’ page of Mr.Bloys business, it states the company ” brings Foreign Trained Skilled Workers from Asia to fill vacancies for Canadian companies”, in addition to a number of other services.

Of course, Mr.Bloy is no stranger to the Temporary Foreign Workers program, having participated in a Temporary Foreign Workers Roundtable event with MLA Stephanie Cadieux and former MLA Margaret MacDiarmid in Port Moody, as shown in this screenshot of a tweet from his twitter account, which is no longer available except in cached form. Inquiries to Mr. Bloy went unanswered.


H/t to a follower on twitter for the heads up. Click on the images to see a larger version.


This weeks column for 24Hrs Vancouver: Beef up BC training programs before turning to temporary foreign workers

The winner of last week’s duel on farmland was Laila with 72%.

This week’s topic:

Should temporary foreign workers be allowed in B.C.’s LNG industry?

For a premier so committed to providing jobs for British Columbians, the irony of Christy Clark’s trip to Ottawa — liquefied natural gas industry executives in tow — in part to ensure the federal government would continue its controversial Temporary Foreign Worker Program, is stark.

It’s a bright red flag waving in the faces of all Canadians when two levels of government sign an agreement that relies on a program that is rife with blatant abuse and exploitation.

Wherever you look in B.C., you will find temporary foreign workers. They pick crops, build our transportation systems and fill jobs in remote locations. More often than not, they are significantly underpaid, bereft of benefits and exploited in working conditions regular workers wouldn’t tolerate. They rarely speak up, unless conditions are so bad or unfair that to remain silent is not an option.

Read Brent Stafford’s column

Clearly, the premier didn’t do her homework when it comes to her own government’s record for skills training in this province. In 2004, the BC Liberals dismantled the Industry Training and Apprentice Commission and replaced it with the Industry Training Authority. The new authority laid off apprenticeship counsellors, put more emphasis on apprentices managing themselves, and cut funding hours for training programs, according to the Federal of Post-secondary Educators of B.C….

READ the rest of this weeks column, comment and vote at:



*** Thanks to a reader who sent this pointed cartoon along today! https://twitter.com/Johny_Canuck/status/453209113321680897/photo/1

‘Twas the night before Christmas….’

… Passed on by a dear friend ;)

‘Twas the night before Christmas…

‘Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the land,
Pipelines ran everywhere
Exactly as planned.
LNG sat in stockpiles
On the shores of the bay
Just waiting for tankers
To haul them away.
Princess Christy was lying
All snug in her bed,
While visions of revenue
Danced in her head.
When she heard jolly laughter
Her eyes opened wide
And then she heard jingle bells
From somewhere outside.
She threw on her slippers
And leaped out of bed.
Slammed open the window
And stuck out her head.
Slowly she scanned
The night sky so clear
And spied a flying red sleigh
Drawing ever so near.
And as she looked closer
She couldn’t believe
That driving the sleigh
Was Prime Minister Steve.
She stood there surprised
Disbelieving the sight
“Stephen Harper is Santa?
That doesn’t seem right.
“He lied to the country
That wasn’t too nice.
He cut Veterans’ Affairs,
Prorogued parliament, twice!
“He filled up the senate
With corruption and sleaze,
And an ounce of integrity…?
For somebody…? Please…?”
He set down in the yard,
From the sled he jumped clear
And said, “Hello Princess Christy,
Have you been good this year?”
“I have been,” said Christy
With all joy and glee,
“I see your great bag,
Is there something for me?”
“Of course there is, Christy,
We’re the ruling elite,
That means we get everything
Isn’t that sweet?”
Christy thought quickly,
“I want gas wells and mines
But there’s all these tree huggers
With their sad, plaintive whines.”
“You go ahead Christy
And mine all you please,
You don’t like tree huggers?
I’ll get rid of the trees.”
“Oh thanks, Santa Stevie,”
Said Christy with glee.
“Now there’s more money
For my rich friends and me!”
“My work is done here,”
Declared Santa Steve,
“So much to deliver,
You wouldn’t believe.
“Duffy wants money,
Brazeau wants slack,
Bieber needs a new shirt,
Rob Ford wants more crack.”
“Will I see you again?”
Asked Christy so sad,
“Next year I may need you
If the economy’s bad.”
“I won’t be back Christy,”
He said with a sob,
“Come the election next Fall,
I’ll be out of a job.”
Then as he jumped in his sleigh
And flew out of sight
He said,
“But my pension’s secure,
So I’ll be alright…”
by Matt Haddrell
Have a Merry Christmas
and all the best in the New Year

This week’s column for 24Hrs Vancouver: BC Hydro hasn’t proved its case Site C is even needed

A very late posting of my Monday column this week,as unexpected events last weekend required my attention elsewhere, and delayed other posts here on my site as well.

This week, Brent and I debated this question:  Do the benefits of BC Hydro’s Site C dam outweigh the impacts?

Brent wrote first, and here is my response:

What isn’t said about a hot topic is often more telling than what is.

The debate topic this week assumes there are benefits to the Site C dam project in the first place — something currently under scrutiny by critics and rightly so. The bigger question about the Site C proposal is whether we even need it or not, and what is the real motivation behind the project. The public has been told it’s to power liquefied natural gas plants, to keep BC Hydro rates low, and the province’s future power needs. So which one of these is it?

In an interview with the Globe and Mail recently, even Energy Minister Bill Bennett expressed his lack of confidence in the project, referring to the financial and regulatory hurdles the project faces, both of which are significant.

See Brent Stafford’s column

The costs of the project are astronomical, estimated in 2011 as $7.9 billion. The environmental impacts are far greater than just what Brent focuses on with the impact on land in the Agricultural Land Reserve in the Peace River.

Not only will wildlife habitat be lost forever, there will be an irreparable impact on First Nations in the area. They will lose traditional hunting and fishing grounds, as well as identified archeological sites along the riverbanks.

As a taxpayer in British Columbia, it’s important to me that the justification for the project is verified independently of BC Hydro’s claims to ensure the best interests of citizens are being served. Sadly, that isn’t going to happen since the Liberal government has exempted the proposal from the independent oversight of the B.C. Utilities Commission. The commission would have reviewed the cost estimates for accuracy, as well as the justifications for the project itself.

This failure to allow an independent review of the project leaves British Columbians relying on information that hasn’t been confirmed. The results of a report released by the joint federal-provincial environmental review panel for the proposal gives reason to doubt BC Hydro’s information.

The panel reported a number of discrepancies and inconsistencies in the reports provided by BC Hydro, including a failure to provide information about the impact on First Nations activities, among other vital information. That’s alarming on many levels — what would a review of their financial information show us?

Read the rest of this weeks column and vote, here: http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/2013/12/01/bc-hydro-hasnt-proved-its-case-project-is-even-needed

My update on the NDP post will be up later this morning, barring further unforeseen events.