BC Approves Construction of Contentious Site C Dam

December 17, 2014 Updated: December 17, 2014

VICTORIA—The British Columbia government has approved its most expensive mega project with the construction of an $8.8 billion dam that has been part of B.C.’s long-range energy options since 1958.

The dam would be the third on the Peace River in northeastern B.C., flooding an 83-kilometre stretch of valley near Fort St. John.

“It was not an easy decision to come to. In order for our economy to grow, we need to ensure there is power,” Premier Christy Clark said at a news conference Dec. 17.

Construction is set to start in the summer of 2015 and the dam, to be built by BC Hydro, is expected to be complete and in operation in 2024.

The dam will flood more than 5,550 hectares, of which at least 3,800 hectares is agricultural land. The project will also flood First Nations heritage sites and force up to 20 families—many life-long ranchers—to move.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, said BC Hydro has failed to make its case in terms of future energy demands.

“This is an ill-advised and incredibly stupid decision the province has made regarding the Site C Project,” he said.

Joy Foy of the Wilderness Committee said the B.C. government’s decision to build the dam “will go down as the most expensive mistake in B.C.’s history.”