British Columbia

As dam decision looms, Greens urge email flood to premier's office

While Green Party MLAs urged a last-minute push against Site C, the Liberal member for Peace River warned of catastrophic effects if the $8.8-billion project is quashed.

Green, Liberal MLAs make last-ditch appeals to kill or continue $8.8-billion project

B.C. Premier John Horgan said the B.C. Government will make its decision on whether to complete or cancel the Site C dam project by the end of December. (Christer Waara/CBC)

As the decision looms on the future of the B.C. Hydro Site C dam, the NDP government faces pressure from both allies and opponents in the legislature and even in their own MLAs' constituency offices. 

Green Party MLAs appealed to Site C opponents this week to flood the government with messages just days away from an announcement on the $8.8 billion project. 

Meanwhile, closer to Site C's construction site, Peace River North Liberal MLA Dan Davies warned cancellation of the project would be "catastrophic" for the City of Fort St. John.

Sonia Furstenau, the Green Party MLA for Cowichan Valley, told CBC On the Island's Khalil Akhtar it's not too late to influence the outcome. "The decision hasn't been made," she said.

Furstenau said hundreds of people fired off emails to the government within hours of the party's leader, Andrew Weaver, saying he was concerned the NDP government is going to approve the project. 

Protesters occupy NDP offices

While the Greens encouraged emails  to the NDP government, some dam opponents delivered the message more directly on Thursday.

A "train of protest" temporarily occupied the offices of Environment Minister George Heyman, Attorney-General David Eby and several other government MLAs in the Lower Mainland. 

​In his Peace River North constituency, MLA Dan Davies said election results in May, where he won 66 per cent of the popular vote as the only pro-Site C candidate, reflect the strength of support for the dam in the region. 

"There was a referendum in this riding that was just done," he said.

"If we just look at the impact on families [working on the project], that alone would have huge impacts on our economy, the social issues that would come along with that," he said.

Trickle-down benefits seen

Beyond the 1,500 people BC Hydro says are working on the dam's construction, Davies said he sees the trickle-down effects of the project when he's in Fort St. John.

"The people that are in the restaurant services, the people that are in the rental companies," he said. "There's so much spin-off activity where people have built their businesses up relying on Site C moving forward."

Davies also said the province, as a whole, needs the project to continue in order to meet future energy needs and reduce carbon outputs.

"Whether we're talking electric cars in Vancouver, moving new builds in Vancouver off of natural gas… hydro is what we absolutely need for the next 100-plus years as that guaranteed energy source that is clean and is renewable."

Furstenau disagrees with dire assessments of the economic impact of cancelling Site C.

"It's an interesting notion to think, oh, they'd have to issue all these pink slips," she said.

She said jobs will remain, because significant remediation work (estimated at $1.8 billion) is needed at the partly completed dam site. Meanwhile, the $2 billion already spent has created new infrastructure such as transmission lines, roads and a quarry.

"Also a lot of the money has gone into wages, which means it's come into the economy," Furstenau said. "So, this idea that every penny that's been spent at this site so far would be wasted if they cancelled, that's not accurate."