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Extremely disheartening decision by BC NDP to proceed with fiscally reckless Site C project

Today the BC NDP announced that they would proceed with the construction of Site C. Their justification for moving forward is distracting, irrelevant and unacceptable. Ultimately, the BC NDP made a choice. They chose to eliminate the tolls on the Port Mann and Gold Ears bridges instead of cancelling Site C.

Back in August I pointed out how wrong it was to eliminate the tolls on these bridges. One of the key reasons was that the outstanding debt of $4.7 billion (Port Mann – $3.6 billion; Golden Ears – is $1.1 billion) would have to be moved from self-supporting debt to taxpayer-supported debt. Increasing taxpayer supported debt is worrying. The Province’s borrowing rates are largely determined by our credit rating, overall taxpayer supported debt load and the ratio of provincial revenue to provincial debt. Increasing this debt load risks the potential of downgrading our credit rating which in term would increase borrowing rates on the entire provincial debt. Back in August, the BC NDP simply announced that they would eliminate tolls without checking with credit rating agencies and without concern for the rising provincial debt. It turns out that there was room to increase debt by $4 billion without triggering a downgrade.

Yet today, they evoke concerns about increasing provincial debt as the reason why Site C must move forward. Had they not so crassly eliminated the tolls in a desperate attempt to grab votes, Site C could have been cancelled today.

What’s even worse is that today the BC NDP announced that the cost of Site C has now risen to $10.7 billion. Back in 2010 when Site C was advanced to stage 3 of the approval process, its price tag  was somewhere between $5 billion and $6.6 billion. In 2011 the price tag increased to $7.9 billion. Two years later it was $8.3 billion and then this past year the price tag grew to $8.9 billion, accompanying a year-long delay in the construction schedule. The BCUC report published on November 1 concluded that the costs for Site C woulld be $10 billion. In fact, the B.C. Utilities Commission said this: “Given the nature of this type of project and what has occurred to date, total cost for the project may be in excess of $10 billion, and there are significant risks that could lead to further budget overruns.” The cost, they found, could end up being $12 billion — and this only two years into a nine-year project.

I have been pointing out the fiscal folly of building Site C since October 2013 and I’ve documented the many, many interventions I’ve made on the subject on this site. Our efforts culminated in us sending a letter to the BC Government last week outlining the case against Site C.

I know that there are many, many British Columbians who are devastated by today’s decision. What bothers me more than anything is that I know of quite a number of NDP MLAs who campaigned on stopping Site C. For example, the agriculture minister, Lana Popham, earlier this year told a Victoria audience:

“we would send this to the BCUC immediately, we would speed up the BCUC process, make it sixty days, and we would have that decision. There is no way that this project would pass.”

“in my view, we’re nine seats away from being able to stop Site C.

Michelle Mungall, the Minister for Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources told a group of Site C protesters that her government would stop Site C and implement their Power BC plan instead. John Horgan, our premier proudly held up a “Site C sucks” sign when he visited the Peace Valley prior to the last election.

When in opposition, George Heyman (now the minister of environment) was noted as saying “the dam project is wrong on every count because of its negative impact on agriculture, the environment, First Nations, clean energy commitments, economics, and the promise of jobs”. Many other NDP MLAs have spoken out against Site C or attended the annual Paddle for the Peace in celebration of the beautiful Peace Valley and in opposition to Site C.

Below I reproduce the press release we issued following the BC NDP announcement.

Media Release

Andrew Weaver responds to Government’s decision to continue with Site C
For immediate release
December 11th, 2017

VICTORIA, B.C. – Today Andrew Weaver responded to the NDP government’s decision to proceed with the construction of Site C.

“Our caucus is extremely disheartened by this decision. It is fiscally reckless to continue with Site C and my colleagues and I did everything we could to make this clear to the government.

“This government promised to be better than the B.C. Liberals. On this issue, the NDP government’s approach has turned out to be no different whatsoever.

“Since the beginning I have been concerned this would end up being a political decision. Today’s announcement reflects a sad reality for B.C., and British Columbians deserve better. They deserve a vision grounded in bold ideas that will enable our province to be a leader in the 21st century economy, not more empty campaign promises and political calculation.

“The government’s argument that cancelling Site C is too risky due to debt is incredibly cynical. This is a question of priorities. They had no problem adding billions onto the public debt to cancel the tolls on the Port Mann and Golden Ears bridges, transferring those costs to people outside of the Lower Mainland to pick up votes in a couple of swing ridings.

“Today, Site C is no longer simply a B.C. Liberal boondoggle – it has now become the B.C. NDP’s project. They are accountable to British Columbians for the impact this project will have on our future.

“We have seen what is happening to ratepayers in Newfoundland because of Muskrat Falls, a similar project, where rates are set to almost double. I am deeply concerned that similar impacts are now in store for B.C. ratepayers.

“The lost economic opportunities from continuing with Site C are profound. Our caucus has met with dozens of local governments, First Nations and B.C. companies with viable alternative energy projects. As countries across the world embrace small scale distributed renewable energy, this decision keeps B.C. locked in the past and risks foregoing enormous opportunities.”


Media contact
Sarah Miller, Acting Press Secretary
+1 778-650-0597 | sarah.miller@leg.bc.ca


  1. RW-
    December 26, 2017 at 10:39 pm

    Why don’t the Greens propose a bill that recognizes the huge value of the existing natural capital and ecosystem services in the Peace River Valley? Please bring forward a full-cost accounting analysis to help them correct this terrible mistake! BC can’t afford to lose more forests right now!

  2. Ara Hepburn-
    December 12, 2017 at 11:52 am

    The trolls and media really are pushing for you to dissolve the Alliance but obviously you see through that.
    What worries us is the design change that has been kept quiet and was ignored by the BCUC review. And even with that fact ignored, BCUC was quite clear that Site C was against the public interest in every way.
    But this is too dangerous to ignore:


  3. Peter Simpson-
    December 12, 2017 at 9:57 am

    Please call me as I have some ideas about how this whole Site C direction could be changed to result in a better outcome.

  4. Mark Hornell-
    December 12, 2017 at 9:52 am

    I too am livid regarding this decision. However not only the government had options, so did you. For example you could have refused support and forced a non-confidence vote which with the peversity of this thing, the Liberals would have voted with the government. Another option would have been to push hard for an extremely comprehensive compensation and mitigation package. Maybe you did this vehind the scenes but that didn’t come through in your remarks. It justvisnt good enough to blame the government on this since you are keeping the government in power. What are you going to do to enable the government to atone to the degree possible for this betrayal?

  5. Paul Magnus-
    December 11, 2017 at 10:41 pm

    NDP just shot themselves in the foot.

    Keeping the liberals out still is still the focus. We need want PR.

  6. ClaytonA-
    December 11, 2017 at 7:47 pm


    Make lemon aid, continue being constructive, and change the debate’s tenor by talking about solutions. Remember you can also partner with the BC Liberals to pass bills the NDP don’t support too. Things like the post secondary sexual assault bill the Liberals adopted build credability; use your media platform now to sell policy, frame Green Party effectiveness for the next election and prop rep.

    1) Please consider making a motion for BC Hydro to complete a BC-Alberta electrical inter-tie (new or upgraded) cost benefit analysis (ammo to take to Canadian Federal Infrastructure Bank, etc.). Studies are relatively cheap. Make a CFIB investment easier by getting info available. If we’re going to have Site C and Kinder Morgan, then BC should benefit more (by displacing natural gas generated electricity) when Alberta’s economy recovers. The federal government invested in Nfld & Labrador’s transmission/power project to Nova Scotia. Alberta switching to CH4 from coal is better, and not solving the electricity emissions.

    2) Please consider budget inputs to increase electrification, or work with the NDP/administration otherwise. I’d prefer through a market incentive (e.g. increase carbon tax by $6 or $7 instead of $5 annually), but what’s possible?

    -Could they triple the BC Hyrdo EV charging budget to $21mm annually?

    -Change the building code to mandate 240V plugs in all new garages/parkades etc?

    -Move up the building code 5 years earlier to Step 3 via a 2019 BCBC revision facilitating heating electrification (versus CH4).

    -A BC Transit electric bus pilot in every transit-served community?

    -Fund a cost-benefit analysis for electrical charging infrastructure to the shoreline for BC Ferries (they’re looking at this for some terminals)?

    -Are there university research partnerships possible to facilitate electrification?

    -A new vehicle EV minimum/fleet composition standard like Quebec’s?

    -A 10 year (i.e. temporary, set up so automatically expires) industrial/commercial electrification capital investment depreciation allowance allowing business to write off new capital costs the year of expenditure

    -A 10 year (i.e. temporary, set up so automatically expires) electrification non-refundable capital investment tax credit. Could also be done via a separate fund eligible companies apply for, so that once it’s exhausted the credit is done.

  7. re-
    December 11, 2017 at 6:20 pm

    Coming into,BCHydro,15th year of flat demand.


    Keeyask/Bipole 3-Manitoba and Muskrat Nfld/Labrador bilions over.

    Did Horgan say we will save the 4 billion to shut down to spend on other items.Well what about the 11 billion dollar bill coming at end if youre very lucky.
    And lucky not to get a debt downgrade with extra costs involved.

    Do we need an inquiry as to how BCHydro buys IPP premium price power and yet we sell surplus.
    Does BCHydro have to shut down at any time its dams in order to buy IPP power.?

  8. Matt Stabler-
    December 11, 2017 at 5:33 pm

    So Andrew, does this mean you are actually going to back up your previous words with Action??


    If So, there are a great many behind you.
    If not, just so much political bafflegab??

    Your Call…

    Wondering… And Watching…

  9. December 11, 2017 at 3:32 pm

    It is abundantly clear that Horgan and associates do not stand up for what is right and just. They do not deserve to be in office. So what should the Greens do now? As strange as it may seem I think the Greens should keep their eye on the prize, that is Proportional Representation, and the only way to get it is to keep this government alive until the next scheduled election. The are a few weasels in the weeds in all the parties, who would love to crash the NDP on this issue and force a new election with the old electoral rules, put the Liberals back in, trash the PR referendum.

  10. Mike-
    December 11, 2017 at 3:28 pm

    We could have invested into renewable energy where TRILLIONS of dollars are being invested. Now were going to be in debt over 12 BILLION dollars and rising , with no investments into renewable energy ? WTF is the NDP thinking ?
    BC was so close to getting 100’s of billions of dollars invested into BC , all that needed to happen was to cancel Site-C and invest in renewable energy . Now that does not seem likely . Now BC won’t have the money to invest in renewable energy, we missed the TRILLION Dollar boat. We missed the opportunity to make real long term investments , we missed the opportunity to make good with the First Nations NDP %#@$&%$# UP !!!
    Obviously we think we have all the time in the world to change the course we are on without consideration to the Global Environment, BC could have made massive leaps and bounds to contribute to slowing down climate change with renewable energy, and exported that technology world wide, a massive investment missed and for what ? To keep the oligarchy happy with their mega projects that just end up ^%$#*^ up the planet , screwing First Nations and anyone that doesn’t have the power to say no to these mega projects. I’ve almost given up on human beings to make change before it’s too late to change , The more time we spend not making leaps and bound to become more responsible toward the environment the less time we have to live through the global climate change reaction event that we have caused . The Longer we take to change the more intense the event will be. Perhaps it’s time to give up trying to save humanity as they can only learn from their experience , however we can’t change with climate change if the climate can no longer support human life . Is that what it will take for us to learn ? The extinction of the human race , how %#$@ up is that when we have so much evidence that shows we have to change now not later . NDP has really made a massively wrong decision with Site-C over renewable energy.
    The ball is now in the Green Parties hands , to keep up the fight for the people , and the environment .

  11. David Sawchuk-
    December 11, 2017 at 2:58 pm

    Dr. Weaver… I encourage you to push for a referendum on Site C. If the NDP refuse, bring down the Government and let me Vote again!!!

    • David-
      December 12, 2017 at 4:52 am

      But the NDP would stay the course which the Liberals chartered. Both of those want site C to go ahead. A new election would do nothing, with 80% voting for those two parties.

  12. Linda Kemp-
    December 11, 2017 at 2:28 pm

    I can not see any upside to the decision and I wish you could have done more to ensure that they were thinking about creative alternatives and protecting that fertile land and the First Nations.

  13. Sylvia Gray-
    December 11, 2017 at 2:02 pm

    Yes! Today’s announcement proves Premier Horgan, just like Christy Clark, can be bought! A very real betrayal and erosion of the NDP integrity! ALL British Columbians will be forced to pay for this boondoggle as well as the two bridges serving lower mainland! I believe that the NDP COMMITTED political suicide today!😡 From everything I’m reading…us Greens are the only BC party with integrity!

  14. Andrew Atrens-
    December 11, 2017 at 1:59 pm

    Speaking of political decisions, will the greens continue to support this reckless government? Or was their promise to hold this government to account on Site C also an empty one?

    • David-
      December 12, 2017 at 4:57 am

      The Greens can carry the balance of responsibility and side with whichever party has the better position- only when the Liberals and NDP want different things. When they both want Site C, the Geeens don’t have enough votes to change that no matter which of the other two is running government.