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More glaring hypocrisy as BC Hydro critical upgrades must undergo BCUC review while province refuses to submit Site C

So there I am, content after a nice dinner of home-made sushi and just chilling and flipping  through my phone… when I saw something that snapped me right to attention:

Dam failure a quake risk for Campbell River

Residents urged to flee area around river if ground shakes strongly


Officials in Campbell River are urging residents to prepare for massive flooding when the ‘Big One’ hits.

While many areas on the coast risk inundation from the sea, the danger in Campbell River will come from inland, where there are two large dams to the west of the city.

“It is predicted by BC Hydro that our old dams will not survive a catastrophic earthquake,” Shaun Koopman, the protective services coordinator for Strathcona Regional District, said in an interview with On the Island’s Gregor Craigie.

If both the earth-filled Strathcona Dam and John Hart Dam breach in a quake, Koopman said, “we would expect about four to six metres of water to flood large areas along the Campbell River, going into our downtown core within half an hour to 40 minutes.”

The fast-moving water would devastate Campbell River’s downtown area.


Seismic improvements to start in 2020

The John Hart Dam Seismic Upgrade Project still needs final design and regulatory approval. Watson said that work is expected to begin around 2020.

He said Strathcona Dam Low Level Outlet Project is expected to begin around the same time.

The project would construct an underground tunnel that would allow the release of water downstream to relieve pressure from the Strathcona Dam.

Campbell River is not the only Vancouver Island where BC Hydro identified an older earth-filled dam as a risk for failure and flooding in an earthquake.

Earlier this year Hydro finalized the purchase of all but one of the 11 homes in the tiny Vancouver Island community of Jordan River. Those homes were in the path of flooding from a potential dam break, and are expected to be removed.

For the residents downstream of the John Hart and Strathcona dams, BC Hydro estimates it will be 20 years before both dams are fully upgraded to withstand a one-in-10,000-year earthquake.

“We have a good plan,” Watson said. “Until then, there is this interim risk.”


Well shades of long overdue critical repairs on the WAC Bennett Dam, yet another dam Hydro had to undergo review by the BC Utilities Commission for, not unlike the process required for these critical seismic upgrades.

And as I wrote in November 2015… the hypocrisy of it all is just as stunning now as it was when I heard about condition of the WAC Bennett dam back then:

In the case of the Bennett Dam repairs, they were identified in 1998… and only went for review in 2015 and the undercutting on the dam is significant.

BC Hydro has an issue with aging infrastructure that in some cases need critical and extensive works. The Jordan River buyout I wrote of yesterday was done because the risk of loss of life downstream was significant if anything happened.

In a post done earlier this year I posted a Quarterly Dam Safety report for the public to read:

This is a newer version here, which discusses conditions and risks of numerous dams around the province:

Campbell River is a great community and an amazing mecca for tourism, fishing and everything outdoors. The scenery is incredible and the people are too. I think they deserve far better than what BC Hydro is giving here. Considering how many issues are identified with dams around the province, we might want to take care of these before spending billions on a new one we don’t need….

My questions to Hydro CEO, Premier Clark and Bill Bennett are these:

1) Why  do critical dam repairs have to undergo a BC Utilities Commission review…while  the province refuses to allow the BC Utilities Commission to review the Site C project?

2) Why is pushing Site C past the point of no return a bigger priority for BC Hydro over critical upgrades on the aging dam infrastructure across the province…which in the case of Campbell River dams mentioned in the CBC story I opened with, not estimated to even begin until 2020?


  1. The BC Liberal government is in cruise control. Their priority at the moment is accruing corporate funds for their run at the 2017 provincial election. I do believe the will of the people will pre-empt their endeavor.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have been very critical of Mr.Horgan and his seeming lack of interest in the Premiership. When I read this article, the light went on. Who in their right mind would want to be handed the keys to this train wreck?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Laila, I expect you know the answer to your questions, are designed to make us, rather than Clark or Bennett, think and seek further information.

    My answer to both your questions is that BC Hydro is now basically a political arm of the BC Liberal party.

    It is evident in the key positions on the Board, including the chair, key operating positions within the corporation, including the CEO, award of key contracts, including IPP and Site C, and key legislation, especially including the Clean Energy Act.

    As the problem is purely political, the solution is political. We must remember that in May 2017 if there is any realistic hope of restoring this former Crown jewel to activities in the public interest.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I really wonder about that Lew.I have little confidence in the NDP right now on several fronts. Horgan won’t even visit the people of the Peace Valley and has not responded or even sent a general reply to some residents up there. One has sent several emails and not received anything. She even invited him personally to come up and nothing. Lana Popham and George Heyman went up. Yet Horgan toured campgrounds talking to people about affordable camping…?

      I asked Claire Trevena this morning on Facebook about this and she said Hydro has been open for a couple of years and the community is aware of the inundation risk. I also asked her if she brought this up in the legislature at all considering the risk and the delay in repairs while Site C is full steam ahead ( It just doesnt make sense why Hydro is tying up so much $$$ there, while dams all over this province are in need of critical upgrades and repairs yesterday)

      She said, ” Not specifically”

      Meanwhile government is forcing Hydro to borrow money to pay their dividend, forcing Site C past the point of no return at God knows what cost considering all the problems on the North Bank… and all these dams are left at risk to populations ??

      Is it just me or does something here stink ???

      Liked by 3 people

      • “Horgan toured campgrounds talking to people about affordable camping…?”

        So sad.

        I really don’t understand the complacency of the NDP in general and Mr Horgan in particular. How can you excite the army when general won’t bloody his hands?

        Lew, you know how much I admire your hard work on behalf of all of us.
        However when you say “We must remember that in May 2017…” the “we” is such a small number. I make the rounds of the various blogs on a daily basis. We is the same crowd.

        Though I am constantly sending links and comments to many, many friends and associates, I am constantly met with blank air or perhaps the occasional shrug or yawn.

        Each and every blogger keeps reminding us of the increase in numbers of visits to their respective sites, yet I rarely encounter people knowledgeable enough to discuss these very important issues.

        We is not the problem.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Well said Hawgwash. Well said. Horgan does not inspire anyone to great heights. Least of all me. I think thats what is so frustrating for me too. The Libs list of travesties and at times nearly criminal actions is still growing. And yet I have so little faith in the NDP when I see the hijinks going on behind the scenes in their nominations, see the silence of many of their longest serving MLA’s on issues in their own ridings who only peep up once pressed by others when things happen ( Where did that Surrey Accord idea go? ) The new MLA’s and Eby are firecrackers and should be running the show and let all those long serving pension accumulating MLA’s just move on and open the way for new ideas and new energy. And now Jinny Sims is going to try and run in my old riding… Good grief. Where was she in that riding when all the crap was going on? No where. Not once did she peep up. Yet she moves on in and decides she needs to give it another kick at the can.

          The same old same old has not worked in many elections.And I suspect it will not work in this election either unless something changes drastically. I think the best bet is to have a wedge group of greens or independents to keep both the Libs and NDP on their toes.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks Hawgwash. I’m using the collective “we” of course, and that is not a small number.

          As you do, every day I meet those who are completely unprepared to discuss the issues. I don’t mean agree with me on the issues, I mean completely unaware of public interest issues that vex many of us.

          As the famous Pogo quote says, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

          A General who must be dragged into battle inspires little confidence. Are you listening Mr. Horgan?


      • Laila, you are spot on.

        I’ve always viewed John Horgan as the strongest and most knowledgeable Opposition critic on the BC Hydro file. But the NDP has assigned that “shadow cabinet” role to Adrian Dix. Big mistake.

        Last election Mr. Dix let us down, as The Donald would say, “Bigly”. He showed up to a gunfight armed with a wet noodle, and hasn’t shown much inclination to go into the corners since. People will not vote for a weakling to lead them. They will forgive minor tactical errors, and as the BC Liberal serial elections show, even outright larceny. But evolution has equipped them with instincts that preclude following weaklings.

        If the NDP expects to be successful next election, it must break out of its shell and show us it has some balls. Big ones, including lady balls. I’ll never forgive the NDP for folding up and crawling away on the BC Rail file, especially the illegal Bas/Virk payoff and the shameful whitewash of it by the Acting Auditor General. There was (and still is) an opportunity and I would argue a duty, for the NDP to make a hell of a lot of noise, including laying a private information, on actions by certain individuals in that case. It would show some backbone, and demonstrate to the public that the NDP has its back when the going gets tough. Instead, they gave up.

        Getting the true, total, and horrific facts about the current state of BC Hydro in front of the public has been left largely to people like Laila Yuile, Norm Farrell, Rafe Mair, and others who struggle to find an audience even close to that addressed by the BC Liberal propaganda machinery, including the part armed with public resources, and that owned by the same corporate owners that own the BC Liberals.

        If the NDP is to break through on BC Hydro (or any other issue), its BC Hydro critic and other MLAs had better start showing up on the battlefield armed with the facts and prepared to act in a manner that will focus public attention on those facts. That will require getting alongside or in front of those currently fighting the good fight at the scene of the crime(s) and using some brave, creative, and innovative initiatives that the informed public can hook onto. In other words, get down and dirty and LEAD; not WHINE.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I’m sure they are. But so are many others tired of more than a decade of NDP drudge. And one of their biggest issues is assuming they will get the vote simply because an alternative is needed.

          Those votes need to be earned. And in order to do that they need to elevate their game.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve written Mr Horgan 3 times in the last year; still no reply. Is it the influence of the BC-Yukon Building Trades unions on the NDP that’s holding the party back from a clearer, stronger critique of Site C. Note for those who haven’t followed this: all those unions are based in the US.


    • So you haven’t received replies either. Neither has Shelley and her numerous heartfelt letters or invitations. One certainly can’t expect a personal reply on every matter but not even acknowledging this is pretty sad. It conveys he doesn’t care. It’s not like he is in government or anything, I’m pretty sure he could spare a moment or two for at least a cursory reply. Or a form letter?

      I agree. This is an issue they are still fence sitting on tippy toeing with a promise to send it to BCUC,but not actually saying if they would stop the project or not beyond that. Shades of Newfie politicians still forcing Muskrat Falls along after they admitted it was a big mistake and the wrong project. And that project didnt undergo an independent review like the BCUC either…

      Liked by 2 people

  5. well Hydro is an arm of govt… maybe the BCUC has decided to do some minor thing after the BCUC DESERTED the taxpayers of BC by failing to report on Site C. ALR is just as guilty of non-action. I guess the cushy appointed jobs are bowing to the liberals instead of doing their job.
    What about upgrades on all the poorly built IPP sites… dams across important fish rivers and creeks…


    • Gary, the BCUC didn’t desert the the taxpayers of BC. Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberals passed a law (Clean Energy Act) prohibiting the BCUC from reviewing the Site C project. BC Hydro is mandated under legislation to submit the required information on the John Hart dam, but not Site C.

      It is the BC Liberals that have deserted taxpayers on Site C. On every aspect except making our grandkids pay the bill.


      • Exactly. In fact from what I saw of how the BCUC grilled Hydro on the WAC Bennett dam proceedings, I was impressed.They were asking questions I would have asked.

        Clark and her caucus at any time could change that legislation and allow the BCUC to review Site C.


        • I only just noticed that you replied to that question, in case you didn’t find out in the meantime, on the day that the Clean Energy Act went into effect with Royal Assent, June 03 of 2010, Gordon Campbell would have been in Sitges, Spain, attending the 58th Bilderberg Conference.

          Although the Bilderberg closed door policy leads some to suspect some sort of arcane conspiracy is going on, the meetings are really just a gathering away from the public eye of the most powerful, wealthy, and or strategically influential people on the planet for a weekend.

          That’s why it is just a fascinating coincidence that Jose Manuel Entrecanales, the CEO of ACCIONA which forms 1/3 of Peace River Hydro Partners that has the largest contract for the Site C dam project, was also present at that meeting.

          (I would almost kill for a time machine, plane ticket to Spain, and a very, very small camera drone)

          Liked by 1 person

        • Acciona may form 1/3 of Peace River Hydro Partners (with Korean partner Samsung?) and a local yokel, but they (Acciona) and the Korean outfit are the grunt behind the venture. I understand the local outfit is on the verge of bankruptcy and are only there to provide a local presence? You are obviously much more well versed than I.


  6. Feeling bad about earlier dragging the topic away to voice my displeasure with the NDP, this evening I sent emails to my MLA Gary Holman and Mr. Horgan.

    I linked the current topic, invited them to drop by, read what’s been written by Laila and to pay close attention to the comments.


  7. Hawgwash says to Lew,“We must remember that in May 2017…” the “we” is such a small number. I make the rounds of the various blogs on a daily basis. We is the same crowd.”

    I was late to this discussion, so I was going to just be a “lurker” as there wasn’t much more to add.

    Amongst the community of readers of BC’s political blogs, the number who routinely contribute comments — I’ll guess — might only be 50. Maybe lower. Why is that?

    Certainly, many people are happy just to read and learn. Others might have too big a public profile to be seen making political comments. Others are too shy to speak up, are too busy, or feel they don’t know enough on a topic to contribute.

    Whatever the reasons that we aren’t seeing new voices: we need to keep linking and inviting people to educate themselves on BC issues.

    I also challenge regular contributors to get their voices out in the mainstream forums — and write actual letters to editors of local and provincial papers (linking back to our favourite blog sites). Remember your MLAs, too.

    We put a lot of effort into our contributions to our favourite blogs but there are many voters outside these walls who need to get engaged in at least thinking about their government. Spread the news!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Yesterday John Horgan visited the site of the tug sinking and diesel fuel spill near Bella Bella at the request of the Heiltsuk First Nation.

    A Google search reveals the MSM gave the visit scant attention. Had the visit been by Christy Clark, there would have been film at 11:00. And 12:00, and 6:00, oh hell 24/7.

    No way any of the threadbare budgets or journalistic instincts are strong enough to allow the networks to go up there unless Christy wanted them to, so the NDP and John Horgan must take a different tack.

    What he should have done was brought back a gallon glass jar full of contaminated sea water from the site and held a press conference in front of the Vancouver Aquarium after providing the networks with film of his visit to the spill site. He should have mentioned that he didn’t see Christy or Mary Polak up there, and ask whether its because they were probably out fundraising for the BC Liberal party to top up Christy’s salary instead He then should have asked whether it would be acceptable or lawful to pour the contents into any of the storm drains marked with a fish symbol around Stanley Park, and since the answer is no, why such little notice is being paid to the clear and present threat to the environment and livelihood of the Heiltsuk First Nation.

    Easy story for the media to cover and they wouldn’t even have had to leave town.

    Liked by 1 person

    • But unfortunately whoever is running that boat doesn’t seem to have oars or a feel for what works or is going to grab media attention. A few tweets showing him getting on the plane is not going to cut it.


  9. Horgan should have requested that Clark and Polak do a SHRUM test, ‘the taste of dirty crankcase oil’

    July 16, 1970
    BC Hydro boss ………Gordon Shrum says pesticides safe and drinks glass of diluted 2,4,5-T on TV. “ Our chemists told me the only problem I had was getting the taste out of my mouth. It was like dirty crankcase oil, but I found that vodka was good for rinsing out my mouth. In any case the exercise was good publicity for combating SPEC – that’s the Society for Promoting Environmental Crap- propaganda.


    • NVG, great example. Still remembered after 45 years. Mr. Horgan’s visit to Bella Bella will likely be remembered for 45 hours, and then only by the followers he already has. He has to shake things up and light some fires. Posing with neighbourhood pets and visiting folks in the local coffee shop is okay if he’s running for mayor in Agassiz, but to stay top of mind with voters provincially he needs to up his game.

      When Christy decided to duck discussion on any number of serious issues by cancelling the fall sitting of the Legislature, I think the NDP should have erected a large circus tent on the Legislative lawn, put enough chairs in it for every provincial MLA, and held sittings to discuss Site C, the latest damning report from the Representative for Children and Youth, etc. daily for three weeks.

      If Christy got the police to remove them, they could point out that the BC Liberals, who brought an unprecedented embarrassment to the Legislature by having it subjected to a police raid looking for evidence of criminal activity, were now bringing another unprecedented embarrassment by expelling representatives from the Legislature in which they were elected to serve.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. A Shrum bucket of diesel marinated clams.

    On the other hand, Lew, why should she bother with time away from fundraisers, lunches and spas for a flight to the Heiltsuk Nation? She was up there on the Royals dime a few days before trading beads for dress up photo ops and that’s way more fun.

    Besides, she gains more by calling the Feds to warn them of an incoming, round up her MSM fan club and “blast” Ottawa over the slow oil spill response.

    MacLeans, Global, The Globe and Mail, CKNW, News 730 and some outlets I had never heard of toadied up, obliged and nobody had to leave town or miss a bagel.


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