BC Hydro says more than 2,000 people are now working at the Site C dam in the Peace River Valley.
The Crown corporation’s latest employment statistics show there were 2,124 total workers on the Site C project in January of this year, with 1,719 (81 per cent) of them hailing from British Columbia.
“Site C construction is making a significant contribution to the region’s economy,” said Mike Bernier, MLA for Peace River South. “I’m pleased to see that there are now almost 700 people from the Peace River Regional District working on the project.”
Speaking to the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce last week, BC Hydro Board Chairperson Brad Bennett also bragged about the jobs the project is creating, saying it made him “very happy” to see so many in the province employed as a result.
So far, Bennett said, about $4 billion has been spent on the project, half on work already completed and half on commitments to future contracts.
That puts it “on time and on budget, contrary to what many would have you believe.”
The Site C project, which will eventually see a third hydroelectric dam constructed on the Peace River, officially began one-and-a-half years ago but has been controversial from its inception.
First Nations and advocacy groups like the Wilderness Committee have been calling for a complete stop to the project.
They say the massive the dam is unnecessary and that the provincial government is ignoring potentially severe environmental impacts of the project to give more business to the mineral and gas industry.
“Site C is not about meeting the electricity demands of British Columbians; it is about subsidizing BC’s oil and gas and mining industries. It’s an $8 billion taxpayer subsidy to a dirty fossil fuel industry that needs cheap energy to expand,” the group writes on a petition to stop the project.
During his speech in Kelowna Bennett referred a couple of times to “fake news” and what he said were incorrect facts being spouted by opponents of the project.
He said the dam is necessary because it will give the province “a firm capacity backbone in the system.”
Right now, Bennett said BC Hydro gets about 25 per cent of its power from independent, clean power producers, but their power is not always reliable.
“The sun doesn’t shine all the time, the wind doesn’t blow all the time,” he said, adding that independent power is often there when it’s not needed and not there when it is.
When Site C is finished in 2024, he said, it will produce enough energy to power 450,000 homes. Without that additional capacity “we’re forecast to have a 8 per cent capacity deficit and a two per cent energy deficit within 10 years.”
“For those who want to turn back the clock, it’s just not going to happen,” he finished.
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