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Work continues on Site C despite uncertainty following BCUC report

An artist's rendering of the Site C dam.
An artist's rendering of the Site C dam. File photo.

Work continues on Site C today after a BC Utilities Commission report said more answers were needed before recommendations could be made on whether to go ahead on the contentious project.

Chris Gardner, President of the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association, said there’s no reason to suspend the project – even if the final report isn’t due until November.

READ MORE: More questions than answers in Utilities Commission’s preliminary Site C report

“All the BC Hydro reports have been consistent and the preliminary report from BCUC supports that,” said Gardner.

“The project is ahead of schedule, it’s not over budget. In our view, there’s no reason for this project to be delayed. In our view, the focus should be on getting the project finished.”

The report said the $8.3-billion project is on track for its scheduled completion date in 2024 but it’s too early to say if it’s on budget.

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It also agrees with BC Hydro’s assessment that if the project is scrapped, it will cost the province about $3.2-billion.

WATCH: NDP government sends Site C for review

NDP government sends Site C for review
NDP government sends Site C for review

But the lawyer representing Peace Valley landowners said the interim report from the BCUC raises some serious questions about the mega-project.

“This is exactly why the BC Utilities Commission was set up. It’s just the type of independent analysis of Site C we’ve been waiting for, for a long, long time,” said Rob Botterell.

LISTEN: Jon McComb talks to an energy expert about investment on Site C

He said there’s already enough information to stop it in its tracks.

Along with finding information gaps, Botterell said the BCUC has found problems with Hydro’s analysis of Site C, rejecting the utility’s forecasts and choice of alternatives, even saying Hydro has over-stated the cost of wind.

“I think it puts Site C on life support. I think BC Hydro is going to have a hard time justifying proceeding with Site C when there are all these problems with their business case.”

READ MORE: Does B.C. really need the Site C dam?

Botterell said given BC Hydro has been analyzing Site C for years, it should have no trouble justifying it or getting the BCUC the information it needs by Oct. 4.

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WATCH: UBC study calls for suspension or cancellation of Site C dam

UBC study calls for suspension or cancellation of Site C dam
UBC study calls for suspension or cancellation of Site C dam

Meanwhile, at the legislature, there was no shortage of criticism during question period on the BCUC Site C report.

“Six weeks ago, this government ordered a rush review on the Site C projects. The preliminary report that was released actually reinforces the sham of the review that has taken place,” said Peace River South MLA Mike Bernier.

READ MORE: BC NDP refers $8.8B Site C dam project to BC Utilities Commission

But Energy minister Michelle Mungall fired back at the BC Liberals, saying the BCUC review should have been done years ago.

“If they had any respect for how we actually do projects, hydro projects in this province, they would have allowed the BC Utilities Commission to review this when it was supposed to be done: years ago.”

The contentious debate continued with more back and forth political finger-pointing.

~With files from Charmaine de Silva