Thank you for taking the time to share your views with me about the future of the Site C dam. I appreciate the active participation from British Columbians on this issue and want to assure you that I listened and heard your concerns.
We have made the difficult decision to proceed with Site C. The project should never have been started, but we cannot change the previous government’s mistakes. To do anything but move forward would require British Columbians to take on $4 billion in debt that would have to result in massive cuts to the services people count on us to deliver. After witnessing the legacy of BC Liberal cuts, I can’t allow that to happen again.
I understand that this may not have been the outcome you hoped for, and want to assure you that as this project continues, we will honour and respect the commitment demonstrated by those who oppose Site C and share in their determination to move B.C to a better future.
Our government will address many of the concerns we heard from British Columbians throughout the province with a number of conditions and initiatives including:
- A new Project Assurance Board that will provide independent oversight to future contract procurement and management, project deliverables, environmental integrity, and quality assurance – all within the mandate of delivering the project on time and budget. Based on current projections, BC Hydro has revised the budget to $10.7 billion.
- Establishing new Community Benefits Programs mandated with ensuring that project benefits assist local communities, and increasing the number of apprentices and First Nations workers hired onto the project.
- Ensuring a Peace River Legacy Fund implements solutions to longer-term environmental, social and economic issues.
- A new BC Food Security Fund – based on Site C revenues – dedicated to supporting farming and enhancing agricultural innovation and productivity across BC.
- Activating the $20-million agricultural compensation fund to offsets lost sales and stimulate long-term productivity enhancements in Peace Valley agriculture.
We recognize the significant impacts on Treaty 8 First Nations and that’s why Minister Fraser and I met directly with Treaty 8 Leaders in their territory. Our government and BC Hydro will work in partnership with Treaty 8 First Nations on measures to address their concerns, including a re-design of the Highway 29 re-alignment to reduce impact on potential burial sites and sacred places, and the establishment of a Treaty 8 project advisory committee. Further, we will ask BC Hydro to consider the development of a new procurement stream for smaller scale renewable electricity projects where First Nations are proponents or partners.
Our government remains fully committed to meaningful reconciliation with Indigenous peoples – to working in partnership with all First Nations, and implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Once again, I want to thank you for your valuable perspective on this issue. I am committed to continuing a dialogue with all British Columbians as the project proceeds.
Michelle Mungall, MLA Nelson-Creston