Placement of Site C work camp defines the term ‘calculated risk’

As someone who has closely monitored site c construction, I have always wondered why the work camp was placed right above the problematic north slope. It didn’t seem that bad of a location at first, but as they began excavation and the severity of the geotechnical conditions turned the slope into one disaster after another, it really seemed odd.

However once the massive Old Fort slide happened a few kilometers away I really just shook my head every time I saw how close the excavation was to the edge of the buildings. It literally skirts the edge. If anything happens to compromise this slope further…I wouldnt want to imagine it.

Most of us here have commented on this several times in different posts. Zoom in below and you can see for yourself.


For contrast, this is what the north bank looked like before the excavation to make it stable occurred, from the Narwhal

The sheer amount of material taken away to date, is staggering.

Well, thanks to my friend Destiny who also wondered why it was so close and went looking through BC Hydro’s EIS for the excavation plans for this slope, we now know the work camp actually isn’t where it was originally supposed to be located!

Not only that, we also now know that the excavation plans for the north slope showed an entirely different location further away from the most unstable ( by their own engineering assessment) slope in the construction zone.

In her own words:

“It’s peculiar to me that the viewpoint and man camp were built in a place different than the drawings they submitted for the environmental impact statement. According to their own drawings, overlayed on actual google image of the site currently, that bank will need to be sloped past the edge of the existing camp and viewpoint in order to be stabilized. Why did they put everything closer to the most unstable bank in the construction zone than they planned? 🤷‍♀️”

Below I will post the original overlay on it’s own, then I will post her image in which she has placed it exactly over the exact Google image.

From BC hydros EIA submission, Volume 1 Figures, page 48:

The yellow portion that starts in the upper/mid left and goes across the bank, crossed with red lines, is the planned north slope excavation required to achieve ( in theory) stability, as per plans submitted.


Now, below, is the above map overlayed on a current  Google image of the construction site.

Look closely.

To the top left you will see a bright green square showing the planned original location of the work camp.

To the immediate left of that square, you will  see the white rectangular outlines of buildings  in the actual current location of the work camp. They are quite different locations.

This  is where it gets interesting.

You will also notice that the yellow excavation zone map now overlaps on top of the buildings, actually cuts off the lower left corner of the main building, engulfs the portable work building and continues along the bank to totally excavate the current location  of the viewpoing on the left hand side.!! There is potentially a lot more excavation required on  the north slope according to this.


This image shows the current viewpoint for comparison above. It would be completely gone if they have to excavate as much as planned.


I did some asking around since Hydro doesn’t like talking to me and I don’t care to file an FOI, and it sounds like Hydro couldn’t end up buying the land they originally planned on as the location of the green square above…so they just built it where it is now – partially in the planned excavation zone!

Considering what’s happened with that slope, and the anecdotes from workers who wish to remain unnamed, it seems a calculated risk. I’d sure be interested to know who made that call. Is this what happens when a premier vows to get something past the point of no return and rushes things?

Its clear they haven’t managed run off and water erosion well and it’s not a new issue. A comment left recently on Facebook supports this.


I’m sure it’s all fine though, because the Site C pr guy Dave Conway says everything is fine, the slope is stable (🙄) and they are ( still ) working on drainage.

That’s why the photo of the  sign on the fence,  at the Site C viewpoint just above the North slope at the far left side of the excavation ( also built in the planned stability excavation zone ), made me laugh profusely….sigh. That moment when the ‘stable’ north bank needs an ‘unstable bank’ sign on it…🤣


I tell ya, you can’t make this stuff up….moving on though, I did get a pic of the mostly ignored south bank construction  for you, which appears to be showing some slumping when you zoom on, in the black material above the service bay


So there you have it. The story of why that camp is literally on the edge of the north slope. And the million dollar question now is:

Who decided this was a good idea and what happens if we continue to get crappy rains when fall comes and  they do need to flatten that slope further in line with the planned excavation design on their diagram above?

We are well into 2019 and there are still water and erosions issues on this slope. I’m told the only fix is to install more drains and remove more material to flatten the slope further.  Kinda hard to do that with a building in the excavation zone…..

But hey, what do I know? 😉

19 thoughts on “Placement of Site C work camp defines the term ‘calculated risk’

  1. its simply a calculated risk and those doing the calculating aren’t sleeping there are night, so what does it matter. Governments have demonstrated time and again that human are disposable if money is to be saved. Those doing the calculating are also betting if there is a shake or more slippage workers will get out before they get killed, however, if they get killed, ah, they can get more workers, not a problem.

    I wouldn’t be sleeping there. Nice pictures. Sure makes it all very clear……


    1. Continuing with the project despite knowing it ‘s all bad with the huge risks, waste of billions,future debt for us and our families, and loss of good land and impact all round, no one wants to rock the boat. That, i think is what it all boils down too now, and always has been that way and that simple. Isn’t that just messed up and sick. People need to be held more accountable for this kind of shit.


  2. Worksafe BC has serious Risk Assessment regulations and Procedures set in place that employers are responsible for overseeing and carrying out. What I see here though is a negligence of the highest level and at the highest levels. Government and Employer/ Employers, Worksafe, and wheres the Union leadership and Safety Commitee. It all has to continue past it’s Point of No Return with a new Risk Assessment is in place. It’s all Good. Don’t Rock the Boat. I will hold my mouth and curb my tongue for this bunch.


    1. I just added a photo from a Narwhal article showing the work camp before this hill was excavated.

      The sheer amount of soil taken off this slope is stunning.


  3. All of that erosion, sloughing and sliding is taking place just above a gravel seam, just above the diversion tunnel work That is happening down there? Water pressure in the soil in the Peace country has a hait of pushing against the least resistance. If the dam actually gets built, and if the dam is solid, the pressure from twenty story high water reservoir will push through the gravel seams, or through the silt, shale, around the dam, either on the south side or the north. It will also turn the toes of those 700 foot high river banks into slippery mud, for more than a hundred kilometers of river valley.

    This has to be stopped, keep the lease agreement on the man camp, but move it somewhere safe, and turn it into a multipurpose social housing, education center.


    1. Water takes the path of least resistance everywhere 😉

      I had to learn a lot about hydrostatic pressure last winter due to the aquifer at the back of my property, because in winter the water table rises significantly and hydrostatic pressure causes issues in basements unless you have a sump pump or a french or curtain drain to divert water away from the foundation. Those drains are filled with drain rock over a perforated pipe because water moves freely in gravel. ( much like this gravel seam above the diversion tunnels)

      In a reservoir, the hydrostatic pressure is strongest at lowest points of the walls of the reservoir and dam, as well as on the bottom obviously.
      As in my yard, the sheer weight of the water mass presses some of it into the surrounding area. It will find any tiny crack or crevice and even come through minute pores.

      The gravel seam in these photos is high enough that it shouldn’t be exposed to much hydrostatic pressure where it might be still following completion along the banks. But looking at design pics, this area will be covered with concrete, as it is near the midline of the buttress the dam will be attached to.

      The bigger concern I see is water coming from somewhere else via that seam and offloading behind the buttress. It’s clear it’s still leaking down into those terraces there, so its finding it’s way down from somewhere. As with the sea to sky retaining walls, water behind a concrete structure can be highly problematic, undermining and creating caverns and spaces.

      Here is a paper on hydrostatic pressure in reservoirs. It’s an interesting read if you are a geek like me 😉


  4. I think the sign actually means, they had to put something up because it’s may be a warning to the general public and outsiders in general because of liability issues. Anywhere inside and on the work site, everyone’s covered by WCB. Well the good ole we got ya covered thing doesn’t do hell of a lot of good if a mass casualty event ever happened because of a geographic failure. So the sign is an admission that there is something not good there concerning geographical integrity. The responsibility would lie at the feet of only a few people across the leadership spectrum, and boy i wouldn’t want to be in their shoes if something bad happened. Christy Clark I imagine would be free from any blame because all eyes would be on the present government and people responsible for being so outrageously negligent for turning a Willful Blind Eye and or not upsetting the apple cart, especially when they have had all the chance in the world to stop it for all the right reasons.


    1. 😉 Of course it’s for liability purposes! If an idiot went over the fence at the viewpoint where this is posted , stood at the edge and it gave way, they can say they had a sign posted warning people.

      Nonetheless it’s still worthy of a chuckle considering how many times Conway has said its stable…👌🏻

      Anyways, I’m on a staycation so have had some time to just catch up and pop out a few of these posts while I can between berry picking, processing veggies etc for winter & wrangling chickens. Don’t expect as much after next week😂


  5. Enjoy your down time. No rush for anything. Life is to short and sweet. There should be another sign beside that one that says But the Bank is Stable. Really it is. Don’t believe that other Sign. Conway says it stable and that’s that !!


  6. We could say, Thanks a lot John Horgan for deciding to continue building Christy’s Site C for your party’s special interests and wipe out so much land that could have supported and fed so many. May we see a time when a couple of politicians can’t get away with making such reckless self serving decisions.


  7. Not to distract from an issue in which I’m very embroiled (disgusted) and at the risk of distracting (only momentarily, I hope) from it, what’s become of the Gary ‘Sargent of Arms’ Lenz issue? Are we still paying his monthly stipend, even though the legislature is ‘closed for the season’? Does he qualify for his pension as well? Does he have to report his side earnings from procurement of firewood, or is that deducted from his salary/pension? How quickly these issues pass from our memories as new and more volatile issues develop!
    It’s difficult to remember which issue pisses one off the most!


  8. I’m a little late here to reply, I worked at the dam for 3 years and let me tell you.
    That slope, is dangerous, the entire site is mismanaged from top to bottom.

    Your concerns are real and very justified, the management team has little experience and they basically have no idea what there doing.
    That slop is a massive landslide to Happen, they put shockcrete in it which is a form of concrete that you can shoot onto the dirt.
    It crumbles and falls down the slope almost killing men working below.

    Like everything there it goes under the rug and nothing gets done about it.

    It’s so toxic there anyone with any knowledge or experience left and the local guys have little to know experience in building civil infrastructure.

    How knowone has died there is nothing short of a miracle.


    1. Sorry for the delayed reply, its been busy and anxious with summer vacation coming to an end.

      Thank you for sharing this. I’m not surprised having heard this from other workers who valued their lives over supervisors and foreman whose big concern is meeting lucrative, bonus tied in deadlines. This is one key factor in many public projects, incentives to meet deadlines are so lucrative to contractors that its better to rush and perhaps cut corners in either materials or methodology, and get the bonus, knowing full well the cost of fixing deficiencies is less than the bonus they already received.
      I’m glad you are ok and have moved on. The issues now with instability under the foundation they don’t know how to fix, is something I’m sure no worker will ultimately feel good working on. I dont know how they will get an engineer to sign off on that with people downstream and lives on the line.

      Its truly sad that many mainstream reporters never really dug into this, but you need trust of sources and knowledge of the industry. I was lucky to have both, thanks to retired engineers who took the time and had the patience to educate me on what and where to look, and selflessly answered my many curious questions when it came to picking apart big projects. It served me well under the BC Liberals…I never thought I would be still at it with the NDP..🙄


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