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Province of B.C. moves to strengthen Site C oversight

Province of B.C. moves to strengthen Site C oversight

VICTORIA—The Government of British Columbia is moving to enhance the Site C Project Assurance Board by increasing its independence and level of expertise.

The changes follow the recommendations of the independent Site C review completed by Peter Milburn, which includes 17 recommendations to improve the management and oversight of the Site C project.

The 10 members of the Site C Project Assurance Board are:

  • Mitchell Gropper, independent chair
  • Fred Cummings, independent external adviser
  • Joseph Ehasz, independent external adviser
  • Amanda Farrell, independent external adviser
  • Daryl Fields, director, BC Hydro
  • Doug Foster, assistant deputy minister, Ministry of Finance
  • Les MacLaren, assistant deputy minister, Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation
  • Cathy McLay, independent external adviser
  • Catherine Roome, director, BC Hydro
  • Lorne Sivertson, independent external advisere

The majority of members are independent external advisers with expertise in capital project construction and management, delivery of major civil projects, commercial negotiations, construction-related claims settlement and other areas, a government statement said.

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Darryl R Taylor Image Darryl R Taylor

There are some notable names assigned to the Site C Project Assurance Board, some with impressive resumes and relevant experience to the role.

The problem is that while they can be counted upon to do their best to bring the project to completion, there has yet to be a serious critical evaluation of the desirability or wisdom in the long term picture of actually doing do, even at this stage of it’s progress.

That is not pleasant to state, but Christy Clark was deputy premier to the project’s (21st century) advocate Gordon Campbell during his tenure, including during the time of the somewhat more than questionable sale of BC Rail in contradiction of explicit campaign promises not to do so.

There is a body of reliable evidence pointing to the project being de facto approved in advance of the official announcement by a span of a good 9 years, dating back to the surveys being conducted along the tributaries of the Peace River by SNC Lavalin in 2005, work that at one point was proudly attested to on that company’s website at one point but that has since had all references to it removed. 

As for the current administration of British Columbia, the negotiation of benefits agreements with various entities during the course of the 2017 review of the project by the BC Utilities Commission does cast significant doubt as to the actual pertinence of the review’s findings to the decision to move forward with construction.

If nothing else, the failure to determine conclusively that the project is even legal in light of the terms of Treaty 8 vis a vis First Nations rights of continuance of traditional cultural and subsistence practices prior to commiting to the undertaking brings questionability to the integrity of motivation behind the dam’s provenance.

That is an undervalued consideration at any point, but notably so at this juncture, all contexts being taken into account.

It would be a fine thing if it were part of the new Project Assurance Board’s mandate to ensure that the project SHOULD be completed at all, prior to providing assurance to anyone that it WILL be.

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