Mike Smyth: Flippin’ and floppin’ on the Site C dam


From the Province – May 26, 2011

by Michael Smyth

The proposed Site C dam has moved to an environmental assessment _ and an eye-popping new price tag: $8 billion.

The 1,100-megawatt megaproject would be the long-planned third dam on
the Peace River. B.C. Hydro says it would provide power for over a
century, and generate enough clean electricity to power more than
450,000 homes a year.

The governing Liberals support the project. So what is the opposition NDP’s position?

When it comes to NDP energy critic John Horgan, it’s been like trying to follow a bouncing ball.

Horgan said this week the project is a “boondoggle”, the
environmental review is a “sham” and he’s “not sure” if the electricity
is needed anyway.

However, he said the NDP stil might support the project. Maybe. Maybe not. He’s really not sure.

Par for the the course for Horgan, who has been all over the map on
the project for many years. Here is just a small sampling of his earlier

“I was a proponent and an advocate for Site C when I worked in
government, talking to the engineers and the forecasters at Hydro.  It
made a lot of sense.” Shaw Cable’s Voice of BC, July 3, 2008.

“The party has historically been opposed to Site C. We continue to be
opposed. We don’t believe we need the power at this time. If this
environmental assessment can demonstrate that there is a minimal
environmental impact, then I think we would perhaps change our
position.” A News, April 19, 2010.

“I supported, as you know, Site C in the 1990s before I’d ever been
to Fort St. John, but since then I’ve had an opportunity to meet the
people in the region; I’ve had an opportunity to go to the valley, to
fly over it and see what the impacts of Site C would be; and I’m not
convinced that that’s the best option today. If I can be persuaded by
science and economics that that’s the case, then I’ll try and argue that
for the people in the region, but as it is right now, let’s get some
answers to those tough questions.” CKNW, January 16, 2011.

“It would be as clean and green as any dam in North America.” The Province, 2007.

“We should pay a premium for renewables so that we can rid ourselves
of technologies like coal, and [this is] why I get excited about the
prospect of large projects like perhaps Site C.” The Province, 2006.

Nothing like taking a strong, clear position and sticking to it, huh?
When it comes to the Site C dam, this guy _ and this party _ have more
positions than a Romanian gymnast.

Can’t wait to hear what they come up with next.

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About Damien Gillis

Damien Gillis is a Vancouver-based documentary filmmaker with a focus on environmental and social justice issues - especially relating to water, energy, and saving Canada's wild salmon - working with many environmental organizations in BC and around the world. He is the co-founder, along with Rafe Mair, of The Common Sense Canadian, and a board member of both the BC Environmental Network and the Haig-Brown Institute.