VICTORIA — BC Hydro’s latest update on Site C includes key news on the forefront of the proceedings, along with the postponement of the proceedings, which were expected to shed an unpleasant spotlight on controversial projects.
West Moberly First Nations went to court this spring in an attempt to suspend Site C as the dam violated the rights of the treaty and threatened traditional territory along the Peace River in northeastern British Columbia.
Instead, allegations of treaty infringement have been postponed.
First Nations and the company “have been in secret discussions to resolve the proceeding,” Hydro reported this week.
West Moberly won last year’s preliminary round, where the court granted access to sensitive material on Site C’s safety and risk.
The order included a complete report of Peter Milburn brought in to review Site C after geoengineering instability was detected at the power plant, spillway, and the foundation of the earthfill dam itself. ..
Milburn was appointed by Prime Minister John Horgan shortly before calling for a sudden election in September 2020.
There is evidence that BC Hydro and the government knew about geoengineering instability months before the issue was published.
However, the timing of Milburn’s appointment provided the premiere with his successful drive for reelection.
Hogan repeatedly refused to answer questions about what he knew and when he knew about Site C’s infrastructure issues.
Milburn and a carefully selected team of experts spent months reviewing the project.
They interviewed 50 key players and collected over 5,000 documents. Some of them, as he later mentioned, are “specially generated to help you understand complex problems.”
He packaged his work into a broadly documented report containing 17 recommendations and submitted it to the Hogan government a few weeks after his second appointment.
The New Democrats then asked Milburn to make a summary of his report, removing the most sensitive material, including cabinet trust and other documents that led to findings and recommendations. rice field.
The minimum required summary was published in February 2021 and Hogan announced that Site C would be completed at a cost of $ 10.7 billion to $ 16 billion.
The full version of the Milburn report was thought to be more clear about what the government knew and when it knew it, but was withheld by the general public.
BC Hydro and the NDP government also fought in court for West Mobary’s application for a full version of Milburn’s material, favoring confidentiality regarding Site C.
The state claimed that the material was already documented or unrelated to the incident.
Hydro sought to convince the judge that he would not be called to court at any point in the proceedings to determine if the dam was being built in a safe and cost-effective manner.
Fortunately, Judge Warren Millman stood on West Mobile’s side and determined that safety and cost factors were linked. Unsafe dams can violate the rights of the Convention and overwhelm the traditional territories of indigenous peoples.
The judge ordered Hydro and the government to hand over the materials, leaving the possibility of restrictions on the cabinet’s credibility and disclosure of commercial information.
West Moberly’s allegations were scheduled for a 120-day hearing at the British Columbia Supreme Court starting mid-March this year.
The incident was expected to include at least some of the material that Hydro and the New Democrats fought to keep public records.
It is not clear whether that outlook made the government more obedient to an out-of-court settlement with West Mobary.
Hydro has already signed a profit sharing agreement on Site C with other indigenous peoples in the northeast.
The company was recorded as open to negotiating similar terms with West Moberly.
West Moberly Chief Roland Willson didn’t answer my phone on Thursday. I think he is negotiating.
Otherwise, Hydro’s latest Site C update will keep your project on schedule and on budget.
This is a year behind Hydrospeak and will cost at least twice as much as when the project was approved by BC Liberals in 2014.
In addition, great uncertainty remains.
“As construction progresses, there remains a risk of design changes due to unknown site conditions,” says Update.
“Continuing the COVID-19 pandemic, negotiations with contractors, design changes, availability of skilled craftsmen, and obtaining the remaining permits to complete the project, etc., remain significant cost risks. increase.”
The fix for the geoengineering problems proposed in the Milburn Report has not yet been completed.
According to the update, the design, engineering, and buildability of these “strengthening foundations” remains complete.
In addition, “negotiations about procurement” with contractors for “strengthening”.
The main element of reinforcement is the installation of 96 large steel piles to stabilize the foundation. Work is expected to be completed later this year.
This update does not include a breakdown of the costs involved.
The appendix may have a cost breakdown. One is “Individual Contract Overview”, the other is “Project Progress”, and the third is “Detailed Project Expenditure”.
But to be honest, Hydro has removed the contents of all three appendices from the public version of the update in the name of “Confidentiality”.
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