Construction in the Peace River bed began last winter

Site C a lone bright spot for northern B.C.

Nearly 80 per cent of 1,447 people working on Peace River dam are B.C. residents, says Energy Minister Bill Bennett

With drill rigs at a standstill awaiting liquefied natural gas export projects, the start of the Site C dam is keeping the lights on for B.C. workers who would otherwise be joining other westerners in the unemployment line.

Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett announced Wednesday that there are 1,547 people now working at Site C, the third hydroelectric dam on the Peace River, and nearly 80 per cent are B.C. residents.

“So all of the dire predictions that this project was somehow going to have to be built by those from other provinces, temporary foreign workers, etc., have proven to be baseless predictions,” Bennett said.

It is slightly ahead of schedule and on budget, with more than $4 billion in contracts let to build the main civil works and the turbines and power facilities. Completion is expected in 2024, after the river is diverted near Fort St. John and the earth-filled dam and powerhouse are constructed in the riverbed.

Bennett insisted the Site C project is not accelerated for the political purposes of the B.C. Liberals, who are seeking a fifth term of majority government in May 2017.

A growing population and economy, plus a push to shift to electric cars and other fuel reduction strategies are all dependent on increased use of electricity, he said.

BC Hydro CEO Jessica McDonald said it has proven to be “an ideal time” to build Site C, with interest rates at historic lows and workers available nearby due to downturns in petroleum and mining industries.

Bennett said one of the remaining risks to the project budget and local employment is if the rest of the economy improves and competition for skilled workers increases.

B.C. Supreme Court and Federal Court decisions have upheld the province’s ability to proceed after aboriginal consultations.

The West Moberley and Prophet River First Nations have applied for review of the provincial permits awarded to BC Hydro, and an appeal of one of the earlier cases is also ongoing.

 

Just Posted

New book from Nanaimo Historian details social history of the E&N railway

Along the E&N tells the story of 32 establishments from Esquimalt to Campbell River.

‘Mamma Mia!’ calling all Dancing Queens to Chemainus Theatre

‘Mamma Mia!’ promises summertime fun with ABBA music, fun and a romantic story

Sanseverino limbing mountains to understand mountains

Ladysmith Camera Club hosts Mountain Legacy Project shooter to talk Canada’s changing wilderness

Ladysmith’s Weeks destined to help visitors

New Chemainus Visitor Centre Manager brings impressive credentials to the job

Historic 75th AGM highlights successes of LDCU

Ladysmith District Credit Union celebrated 75 years of service at their annual general meeting.

QUIZ: Test your knowledge of Victoria Day

How much do you know about the monarch whose day we celebrate each May?

Take-home drug testing kits latest pilot to help curb B.C.’s overdose crisis

Researchers look to see if fentanyl testing could be a useful tool for those who use drugs alone

Facebook takes down anti-vaxxer page that used image of late Canadian girl

Facebook said that the social media company has disabled the anti-vaccination page

Search crews rescue kids, 6 and 7, stranded overnight on Coquitlam mountain

Father and two youngsters fall down a steep, treacherous cliff while hiking Burke Mountain

Raptors beat Bucks 118-112 in 2OT thriller

Leonard has 36 points as Toronto cuts Milwaukee’s series lead to 2-1

Two cats die in house fire in Nanaimo

Fire happened just after 2 p.m. Sunday on Fifth Street, one resident displaced

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Rescue crews suspend search for Okanagan kayaker missing for three days

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

B.C. VIEWS: Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed

Turns out dear old China wasn’t doing such a great job

Most Read