The BC Utilities Commission (BCUC) Inquiry into Site C was long overdue. Its final report is based on an independent review of contradictory evidence, expert testimony, and public and First Nations’ input.
The inquiry process was completed on time and provides compelling information in support of cancelling this project.
We urge you to resist the temptation now to re-test the evidence in the court of public opinion, with lobbyists and the project proponent. The latter groups have already provided their input to the Commission, as have a range of experts and those opposed to the project.
We are of the opinion that your government should respect the findings of the appointed regulator with oversight of these matters. We believe that to do otherwise would be to sully the decision-making process laid out by government when you charged the BCUC to undertake this review.
The project is late, over-budget, and it’s been shown that we don’t need the energy. We can generate more electricity without flooding our farms and sensitive ecosystems. We can avoid encroaching on First Nations land title. And, for every dollar spent, retrofits create twice as many jobs as dam construction.
We think a better energy plan would produce good-paying jobs close to home in communities throughout BC. Keeping life affordable under the circumstances means limiting rate increases to only those made necessary by cancellation of the project.
We also recognize and applaud your government’s commitment to improving public infrastructure and creating tens of thousands of construction jobs around BC.
It is against this backdrop that we have become increasingly alarmed about the position of some members of the Legislative Assembly, the ICBA (Independent Contractors Business Association), CLAC (the Christian Labour Association of Canada) and some in the media who persist in making Site C about jobs.
This is a diversion. Their boosterism should not stand in the way of recognizing that Site C must be terminated to respect First Nation land title. It should be terminated for economic, food security, and environmental reasons.
It is our view that some of the job numbers being bandied about are significantly inflated. We are concerned that public confusion on this point may make things more complicated for decision-makers, in an already complex situation.
Regarding the jobs claims, the fact is that few, if any, of the trades jobs at Site C would have lasted for the duration of the project. Construction projects don’t offer the same tradesperson a decade-long job, so we feel it is disingenuous for individuals to claim they moved to Site C for a ten-year job. Moving from one site to the next is the nature of construction work.
On the other hand, when the project is cancelled, the government can implement a better energy and jobs plan. This will help address the legitimate need for employment in trades throughout BC. Cancellation will allow the government to provide more jobs, higher-quality jobs, and more permanent jobs than would be afforded by continuing Site C.
There will also be considerable work required to restore the site upon cancellation. This work should form part of a labour adjustment strategy for the BC resident workforce presently employed at Site C.
In summary, we think it is past due for your government to compel BC Hydro to provide the public a detailed explanation of the human resources deployed in the construction of Site C.
We make this request because it is our view that the public is poorly informed on Site C and, in particular, on the jobs questions that have been raised. We feel that greater transparency would be low-risk, low-cost, and provide important information in support of your government’s decision to cancel Site C.
Harold Steves, Bob Fedderly, Steve Gray, Mae Burrows, Ken and Arlene Boon, and 108 other concerned citizens.