Site C: The $9 billion dollar + boondoggle complete with grassroots oversight.

One would hope that with a budget of over $9 billion dollars and a long list of critics and opponents, the bigwigs over at BC Hydro would be on top of every little thing happening at Site C, in order to avoid any unnecessary scrutiny.

However, yet again a public complaint is helping to hold the crown corporation and their contractors to account when it comes to compliance with environmental infractions at the dam site.

Strangely, this is nothing new.

Since the dam began clearing and construction, concerned locals have been watching the site closely and making calls to both DFO and the environmental assessment office about infractions at the site – often to no avail – until I have followed up by publishing photos showing non-compliance.

So concerned by the lack of attention given locals complaints,  at one point last year I phoned both DFO (response in post) and the EAO officer ( Chris Parks, who did not return my call) at one point to talk about the photos I posted here showing the silt flow clearly down the river.

A non-compliance order was finally issued in April, despite ongoing complaints since October of 2015 and remarkably, the Site C rep even tried to spin it as a sign that the system was working (??)

Then, on July 21st, 2016 I posted these photos :

And again, this post of  August 28th, posted only two days before the Environmental Assessment Office inspection of the site, asking why no one else was asking any questions:

However, it was yet another post I published on September 21st, with new photos  showing extensive cracking, dangerous conditions and  yet again, another heavy sediment flow in the Peace River, that had federal politicians from both the NDP  and the Liberal Party of Canada getting in touch with me… and both DFO and the environmental assessment office running..

7 days later, a high level meeting occurred in Vancouver, as detailed in this report by Larry Pynn of the Vancouver Sun:

The inspection record was posted Dec. 23, based on inspections conducted Aug. 30 to Sept. 1 under the signature of compliance and enforcement officer Alex McLean. The high-level meeting occurred Sept. 28, and included O’Riley and Site C project director Diane McSherry.

The EAO was represented by associate deputy minister Kevin Jardine, executive director Paul Craven, and senior compliance and enforcement officer Chris Parks.


On Dec. 22, Hydro also posted two enforcement orders for Hydro’s failure to monitor water quality in potentially affected wells and failure to protect amphibians.

I can only imagine the phone calls at BC Hydro following that post…

How could this happen?  Site C had just undergone an inspection  August 30th to September 1st ( this was not yet public) and here I post more photos showing more of the same infractions not even a month later. Priceless.

It’s worthy to note as well, that the complaint that resulted in those last enforcement orders regarding wells, was also submitted by a citizen.

Can anyone explain to me why the biggest mega project ever undertaken in BC history is being kept accountable by citizen oversight?  Because it isn’t inspectors flying over taking photos of silt flowing in the water. It’s residents. And they find their way to me to show all of you what is not being taken care of and up until now, reported on very minimally.

And the irony of hiring SNC Lavalin being hired to solve erosion issues that aren’t new, or unknown to the government? Laughable.

It matters because it shows the system that’s set up really isn’t working and if they think they can get away with it, they will.

Like developers who happily pay fines in Surrey for cutting down large trees and consider it the cost of business. I believe BC Hydro has been fine with letting things slide ( no pun intended) hoping no one would be the wiser. because their actions do not match the words being repeated often by  their project flak.


Which brings me to my next bit of business, this opinion editorial written by BC Hydro ceo Jessica Mcdonald- please take a moment to read it and come back :

Longtime area resident and businessman Bob Fedderly had a few things to say about her piece and fired off an email to her, which I share with you here.

Hello Ms. McDonald

I am unsure if you have received email from me at the above address or not as I have not received a response from you. If I have the wrong address, please advise as I look forward to hearing from you.

Regarding your piece from Jan. 2 2017 a few items you mention need to be addressed:

-your stated employment numbers do not coincide with the numbers of vehicles in the parking lot at the camp, worker counts on buses/aircraft, or machines requiring operators on site, based on equipment supplier counts. Site office personnel counts are limited by space, which is limited. Entry/exit counts as well are not supportive. Prior to claiming that the project is the saviour of the Northeast job market, an audit of your information should be done. A trio of natural gas pipeline projects in the region will be employing more people this winter than the Site C dam project, while offering better pay and benefits, helping to move clean, cheap BC produced natural gas to onshore export markets.

– It is undeniable that certain commodity prices are seeing small price increases. As you are likely aware the large Hawaiian LNG supply arrangement with FortisBC has evaporated and the logistics of getting gas to the Woodfibre site (excessive cost of micro-tunneling a mountain, etc.) may shelve that project.

-the City of Vancouver wasn’t heard refusing landfill gas or methane derived from anaerobic sewage digesters, that should be used in areas of dense population and intensive livestock production, and are considered “renewable”.

-Plenty of” post-truth” is coming from the communications people within your organization  and the current BC government, when they pick partial comments by Joint Review Panel members and documents from that process. The whole story is the project is unaffordable and if you choose to quote Harry Swain, “the economics are awful”. There is a reason there is no trust and acceptance of this project, but it is not because the public is being misled by project opponents, who have no large communications departments and PR firms being paid with taxpayer/ratepayer funds. The fact a productive valley with huge agricultural value will be lost cannot be denied.

-Courts will decide, most certainly, and going forward with this project in light of that should net a contempt of court charge. Claiming narrow technical wins as monumental victories is a tactic used by those who would marginalize their opponents, as is the use of SLAPP suits. And yes, it is fortunate Canada is different, as we see how  groups have recently stopped projects like yours,  without “social license” from proceeding.

Stopping Site C will happen with graphs and spread sheets rather than military intervention as more people understand the “long game” of a 70 year payout on a money losing piece of unnecessary, outdated infrastructure. Voters can understand cutting their losses at $2 Billion rather than spending$10 to $20 Billion to confirm they have a Muskrat Falls disaster on their hands, complete with the huge rate increases. CEO’s of companies accountable to their shareholders, rather than political masters do as well.

-as more of BC’s population looks to alternatives like wind, geothermal and solar with our legacy of 98% “clean” power, they will realize that in the two years that BC Hydro has spent trying to justify a new dam, they could have installed new more efficient technology with near zero emissions at Burrard Thermal with the same or more capacity for a fifth of the forecasted price of Site C.  A price forecast that when investigated will yield huge cost increases for dealing with geotechnical issues and water management due to high river flows necessary to keep the Williston reservoir at safe enough levels to protect the ailing WAC Bennett dam.

-as a ratepayer I am not sure it is the job of the CEO of a publicly owned utility to be offering politically motivated opinions, especially in advance of an election. Following the path of your escalation to this position, we are sure that what was offered in this piece was exactly that and indeed voters/ratepayers need to keep their eye on the “long game” bankruptcy that is happening at BC Hydro.

Yours Truly,

Bob Fedderly

Every story I do has a heart, and soul. Those forces of know keeping tabs on Site C with us, are the steady strong beat behind this one. And they’ll be here long after this premier and Hydro ceo have moved on.

Give them a round of applause.

Breaking news late Thursday Jan 5. Imagine this. After all those warnings, after the flights to the site and the big meeting in Vancouver…..the site is once again found to be breaking rules and in non-compliance.Like I said above….they just don’t care.Cutting corners when no one is looking:

BC Hydro is facing a federal order as early as Friday and potential fines of up to $400,000 due to erosion and sediment problems at the $9-billion Site C dam project in the province’s northeast.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency has issued Hydro with a “notice of intent” to proceed with enforcement action unless the provincial Crown corporation provides assurances that problems are being addressed.

Based on Hydro’s response, the federal agency may amend, rescind or issue the order, which carries potential maximum summary fines of $200,000 on first offence and $400,000 on subsequent offences. The fines can apply for every day that Hydro is not in compliance with the environmental conditions authorizing the project.

In the federal documents, senior enforcement officer Nicolas Courville stated that the 1,100-megawatt Site C project was inspected on Nov. 29 to Dec. 2, 2016, at three sites —  Moberly River construction bridge, right bank drainage tunnel, and right bank cofferdam.

The inspection discovered there were “no erosion and sediment contingency supplies located within the laydown or work areas” of the sites as required by the three Environmental Protection Plans. Hydro referred inspectors to a central contingency supplies site, but it was deemed inadequate for one site, much less all three, the documents read.

Hydro released a copy of its letter late Thursday, but Ottawa’s response to it is not yet known.

Greg Scarborough, manager of environmental compliance for Site C, writes that Hydro is “very concerned” about the federal inspection findings and “has implemented measures to return into compliance.”

Hydro is providing a long list of contingency supplies at the project, including silt fencing with stakes, crushed gravel, sand bags, weed-free straw bales, flagging tape, plastic sheeting, and geotextile fabrics.

49 Comments on “Site C: The $9 billion dollar + boondoggle complete with grassroots oversight.

  1. Thanks Laila. I’m thank you that you are reporting and journaling the truth. I consider writers like you the ‘Voices’ in the Wilderness’. Activists from all quarters are this very topic are a menagerie of voices that some have a timbal (Entomology. a vibrating membrane in certain insects, as the cicada.) The animals themselves cry out silently for justice. If the warnings and cries of human beings are not regarded by leaders in provincial and federal government, as has been evident for a long time, perhaps we can arrive at the conclusion that; corruption, greed, and pride rule the day. Pretension and vulgarity follow suit with a certain exhibitionism. Despite the despicable power inherent in all of this sometimes the best action to take is to look away and focus on goodness. It is difficult, and many are labouring in this. I am writing this to you … as an encouragement and with hope in a power that is greater than what we see in Canadian provincial and federal politics today, on the matter of the Site C dam.

  2. It’s not easy to protect the fish, water and environment when hurried, Christy Clark only had 18 months to fast-track a mega-project to the point of no return(May 2017 election)…..The letter was interesting too, full of facts, doubt and disdain….

    Disdain is good, but is it enough, many would like to swear, scream and even threaten the authors of Site C boondoggle..

    Will the project be stopped…maybe, if John Horgan wins 2017 election, but even that isn’t certain,..if elected, Horgan may suddenly find himself being convinced by labour, pressured by the powers that be that in fact the project had passed the point of no return..

    What about the courts..BC Supreme Court, one can win there, but, when the BC Liberals lose there they appeal up…it’s quite apparent that the BC Appellate Court serves only one direction, then can appeal up again, Supreme Court of Canada…one can win there too, problem there is time….time waits for nobody, even if Frankenstein is being built..


    It doesn’t matter how much logic you use, doesn’t matter if you shove irrefutable evidence proving your case under Jessica MacDonald’s nose, or Christy Clark’s nose, Bill Bennett’s nose, none of that matters, Site C dam never ever had a justification to be built, no electrical demand..

    Site C dam project going forward was a political ploy, Christy Clark’s failed jobs plan required the province itself to create jobs in rural B.C… Now Site C dam power is being dangled as a freebie carrot to somebody, anybody who will build a LNG plant….problem is, that freebie carrot comes at a great cost to British Columbia ratepayers and to BC Hydro…This project potentially could bankrupt BC Hydro…saddled with unsustainable debt would have to be sold, privatized, a debt larger than it’s assets…BC Hydro sold to cover it’s debt…

    We would be at the mercy of the private sector..

    Hmmm, that last line, “at the mercy of the private sector” …kinda describes Christy Clark’s BC Liberal Government..

    Good Day

    • Currently awaiting the decision of the federaal courts on one action that is bolstered by the Enbridge ruling last year…that has the possibility of quashing it. But you are right about Horgan I fear. And he would have to give the funds to allow the BCUC enough resources as well..saw an article a while back where a rep said they didnt have the resources to even review it.

      I still think a court action charging pertinent politicians with breach of fiduciary duty for failing to review by bcuc might work.

    • No…He is not Alex G T…

      Alex Tripper is also known as Luke Skywalker..Luke..Brad…Coolhand Luke…One of his many names used at the Tyee….His name is Brad Zubyk, ex NDPer..long since turned BC Liberal muckraker.and a Lobby group, hired guns….google up Wazuku…or Ian Reid and Wazuku…

      Zubyk was hired to go after our auditor general John Doyle(google Pacific carbon trust and John Doyle)

      Zubyk was hired years ago to go after The Straight Goods

      I scare the hell out of the BC Liberals…writing the truth scares them.


  3. To be fair to Mr. Palmer, on December 9, 2016 he did state:

    Here and there I saw how they are trying to meet the geotechnical concerns associated with the site. A lot of the current activity entails drainage and/or removal of the unstable river banks.

    My attention was drawn to a surveyor’s theodolite set alongside the road leading down to the temporary bridge linking the two sides of the river. The instrument has to be checked regularly because the road is slumping and may have to be shored up with pilings sooner or later.

    • He saw, I showed… it all works out in the end. Pictures speak more than a thousand words and there are so many here that have been raising questions for a year. 🙂

  4. The Conservatives-In-Liberal-Clothing are ravaging British Columbia’s natural resources, disrespecting our First Nations communities and destroying our beautiful natural habitats, while endlessly spewing The Lie – British Columbia: The Future Is Here. All on the tax-payer dime. It doesn’t get more cynically opportunistic than this. Oh wait, it does…. Great piece Laila. Keep the flag flying!

    • Me an mla? Not a member of any party and although getting poked from every angle to run independently no plans to right now.

      I agree whipped mlas are a big issue. Will have a guest post soon from a new org thats developed an app that lets you check the voting record of your mla on any issue.

      Turns out very few vote against their party…which we all know.

  5. Is this really what BC has come to?

    Watching the various news videos of the bucket people, I think of a Hagar like comic strip where the overlords flit about in corporate jets giggling at the distracted peasants fighting among themselves for grains of salt.

    They really do have us right where they want us now, don’t they?

  6. Great post, Laila! Keep up the great exposés!

    I believe Horgan has said he will seek an independent review of Site C if NDP wins election before making a decision on whether or not to proceed.

    Also, Rafe Mair has suggested that voting on government bills should be done by secret ballot to allow elected members to vote with their conscience instead of towing the party line… interesting idea!

    • Yes Horgan has said he would send it to the BCUC. Two questions remain unanswered regarding that.

      1) would he suspend construction while that review was undertaken?
      2) It has been reported BCUC does not have the resources to do a review of Site C: Will the NDP provide those resources to the commission once elected to do a proper review?

      Heyman and Horgan have both said contracts need to be examined and are already deferring to Clark for blame, which doesn’t leave me confidant they would cancel it. Like Dwight Ball in Newfounland who,after being elected once the government that brought Muskrat Falls in was firmly trounced,said it was too far along to cancel. We know where that ended up -a federal bailout.

      Im in the cancel contracts and negotiate settlements group. We know Libs never investigated alternatives and this dam is going to be a money pit like Muskrat.There are older dams in the system that should have been upgraded before any new ones built and Revelstoke 6 can be brought online.

      Never forget the Kemano completion project was cancelled and settlements negotiated, which will always. ALWAYS,be the less expensive alternative than continuing.

  7. Jessica McDonald:

    “The earliest rays of light are shining for commodities like copper and metallurgical coal as prices begin to creep back up. Both FortisBC and Woodfibre LNG advanced liquefied natural gas developments.”

    “These events all have implications for future electricity demand.”

    Is she saying Site C is needed to provide power for coal and LNG?

  8. Thanks so much for all the information and discussion. WordPress won’t let me click on ‘like” for any of the comments without having my own website, etc. Very annoying because some of the comments are brilliant.

  9. So this in this afternoon.

    Sources report to me that the work at Site C was shut down today and buses were parked.

    Shared this info with Jonny Wakefield of the AHN, and he has been in contact with the CEAA. Something is happening, CEAA is sending info to reporters this evening so I will update here as soon as I know anything or if I find out sooner.

  10. Well.
    My personal experience with SNC-Lavalin ( our company was bought out by SNC and after a year of mindboggling , pointless BS I resigned in disgust….as , eventually, did ALL my co workers) leads me to believe that SNC is involved in this for the billable hours…nothing more.
    They dont give two petrified dinosaur turds for the environment if their other govt “operations” are any indication.

    One can see that from YEARS of corruption convictions, pollution convictions and numerous other allegations yet to be proven in a Court of Law…………SNC does…..not….. care.

    Their fines are merely the cost of “doing business” and one can only surmise that Christy Clark will “retire” to a highly salaried SNC Board Membership in the not too distant future.

    I for one cant wait because it will mean she’s retired…..and I wont have to see her smirking , vapid responces to the rare reporter that actually discovers their spine and askes her a pointed, difficult questions ……

  11. “Can anyone explain to me why the biggest mega project ever undertaken in BC history is being kept accountable by citizen oversight?”

    I call it edmontonoileritis – a group’s inability to perform at a world-class level after its world-class leadership is replaced by mediocre leadership.

    • Edmonton’s nickname for YEARS before the NDP rout in the last Provincial election was…..
      The TV election map on election night for decades of Federal or Provincial elections had a lonely bastion of Liberals(Feds) or NDP(Provs) sitting like an ugly pimple on the calloused rump of a stubborn conservative Albertan steer……..hence “Redmonton”
      They have always voted for liberal or socialist politicians in that city.
      Possibly because the main employer in the city is the govt and the majority of workers are unionized govt employees??????
      Who knows……
      Well the disgusted voters all over the province obviously had enough of 40+ years of lazy, arrogant, corrupt conservative politicians( Christy Cluck take note) and the NDP “Orange Crush” now rules in Alberta…….lets just see if those political neophytes can make it to a 2nd term

  12. Pingback: Vaughn Palmer: Getting Site C to point of no return a damning progress report, so far | Ecocide Alert

  13. The reported 3 truck roll overs “this year” must be an error.
    More to the point, are these roll overs caused by the ground disappearing from under them?

    • Also… shared from someone who lives right above the site and can see everything,in response to someone who said too much work had been done to stop. Not true. Looks impressive to those not familiar but this is her comment:

      ” If you listen to BC Lydro or the BC Lieberals, or read the Vancouver Sun, you would believe this Project is “On Time and On Budget”.

      However at this point in time, although they ‘report and actually print’ about diversion tunnels and transmission lines’ they must be seeing these things ‘In Their Dreams’. Because Van, I live above this monstrosity and believe me when I say there is NO diversion tunnels or any other “DAM” permanent structure down there yet.

      Mostly what has been happening is a Vast and impressive (to the masses and most news reporters,) Clearing of Old growth forests, stripping of topsoil, moving of massive amounts of dirt and rock, as in lots of boys and girls working in the dirt with life size Tonka toys at our expense. 2 temporary bridges built, and a Trump tower style TEMPORARY work camp.

      All this work planned is completely reversible and/or temporary in Nature. Then once they stripped the dirt banks of the vegetation that holds the banks in place, they experienced the wettest Spring, Summer, fall on record and as was well documented by BC Hydro and privately hired Geotechnicians, since the late 1970’s, the clay and sand banks began to walk, slide, move as they have for over 10,000 years.

      But the Liberals, led by head puppeteer Gordon Campbell and his 3 Monkey puppets Christy Clark, Bill Bennett and his Old Barbie Hydro Jess, who are trained to See no Problems, have not heard about any problems and do not want anyone to Speak Of any problems with this project.

      Thankfully not all believe Gord’s 3 monkeys and the truth is coming out. In reports and photos of landslides that have wiped out their roads almost from the start. (bank instability) Vehicle rollovers large and small (the latest a massive Rock truck) Safety issues.

      Then there is the latest fiasco, they now may need to twin the initial main temporary bridge, spanning the Peace river! This is because, whomever was in charge of engineering, designing and ultimately making the ‘Materials required’ list forgot to “Ask What the Bridge was to be used for?”

      This resulted in a very expensive temporary bridge designed and built, too NARROW for its purpose, which was to accommodate 2 way traffic of heavy duty, wide Dump trucks.

      This coupled with the looming environmental fines, tells everyone with open eyes, ears and good comprehension skills, that this Project is going to cost WAY more $$ than predicted and is at this point 2 years behind its proposed completion dates.

      So Van unless you are reading with open eyes, listening to hear what is being said, then, “Yes” it is possible to believe this project can’t be stopped.

      If you are investigating and paying attention, you would know the “Temporary nature” of the destructive facade, being carefully constructed by Paid Media and the BC Lieberals in our Peace River valley, to fool the masses that all is well.

      Everything down there can be removed and everything connected to it such as gravel pits, industrial residential and farmlands, excess equipment and vehicles, can ALL be Sold. Even as low as 0.50/$ we would save billions to BC taxpayers. So money is not “Lost” at all just a big fat “Make Work” project that will make LOTS more work clearing off, reforestation jobs and removing temporary structures from the site.

      Then BC will have saved BILLIONS and that $$ can be used to generate more innovative and efficient with less environmental footprint, energy sources “IF and WHEN” BC Ever needs more power.”

      • Who better than “someone who lives right above the site and can see everything” to provide real time photos as proof there “is NO diversion tunnels or any other “DAM” permanent structure down there yet.” Or of the “latest fiasco” being the need to twin a bridge too small.

        This is not a criticism but please, if you want the “Van” people to see the truth, show the truth. I’m sure Laila would be happy to publish the hard evidence for all to see.

        Maybe we can even help you secure a drone. 🙂

        You will be thanked.

        • Drone flyovers would be a chargeable offence. If weather improves will work on getting photos of the entire site. I do agree everything is reversible. The clearing is happening three years ahead of when it should have been, imo, simply to make it look like more work has been done. And wood wasted. Even last summer areas that had been cleared were sprouting new growth.

          Nature has a way.

        • I didn’t suggest a flyover and even if I had, it is my belief the 1.5 mile radius X 3,000 foot altitude “no fly zone” no longer exists. It is now only imposed on an as needed basis;
          “Aerial navigation notices will be issued when aerial safety is a concern.”

          “There will be periodic blasting needed for some main civil works activities,”

          “If blasting is scheduled at the dam site, BC Hydro will file a NOTAM with Nav Canada,” “The NOTAM would likely only cover the period of time when the blasting is planned to occur.”

          In any event a drone at 200-400 feet can shoot incredibly detailed footage over several square miles and certainly, the behavior of the BC Government, Hydro and the contractors, reported at length by you, include far more serious “chargeable offences” than a pesky little drone.

          As well the “Van” people referred to as not having open eyes, are not regular readers of this space. We who come here are “investigating and paying attention;” are just as up to speed and supportive of the Peace people as he who looks down upon the dam and us.

  14. Laila would you please comment on the opinion piece from Professor Ian Lee that appeared on CBC concerning the Muskrat “FALLS” DAM. He is employed at Carleton University’s Sprott School of Business. Some of the respondents to his piece claim that he is a professional right wing policy advocate. He feels that the federal government should bail out that project as there are forecast increases to Kw/hr upwards to over twenty cents, with some claiming it will be closer to thirty cents. As you mentioned in one of your recent articles, If you hear the words, Muskrat Falls Dam, think Site C. With BC’s debt approaching $200 BILLION with ten times their population and far and above NL&L’s debt, I can’t see how our boat won’t be sinking as fast as theirs. Thanks, Mike

  15. This 2014 document laid out the plans that BC Hydro would take to adhere to Environment regulations…


    5.2 Blasting Management

    Timing Windows
    Blasting is prohibited:

    within 1 km of an active raptor nest from April 1 to March 31.

    within 300 m of bat hibernacula from January 16 to March 31

    blasting is prohibited at the West Pine Quarry from January 1 to March 31.

    Blasting levels are limited at the West Pine Quarry to no greater than historical levels from May 15 to June 14.

    Page 27
    5.4 Erosion Prevention and Sediment Control Management

    Page 28
    Erosion Control ……

  16. Has anyone seen caribou on Site C since January 1?

    In order to manage the potential disturbance to caribou from quarry activities:

    Blasting is prohibited a the West Pine Quarry from January 1 to March 31.
    Blasting levels are limited at the West Pine Quarry to no greater than historical levels from May 15 to June 14

  17. I wonder if anyone has told Mr. Horgan that 4 months from today is election day in BC.

  18. Pingback: The Billion dollar question with only one right answer. – No Strings Attached: Laila Yuile on people, politics and life in B.C.

  19. Pingback: The Obscured Story of the Site C Dam – Part 1 – Direct Democracy BC