Diversion tunnels have been completed to redirect the Peace River during low water this summer and fall, in one of the most critical steps to completing the Site C dam, March 2020. (BC Hydro)

Diversion tunnels have been completed to redirect the Peace River during low water this summer and fall, in one of the most critical steps to completing the Site C dam, March 2020. (BC Hydro)

B.C. Hydro’s Site C set back by COVID-19, foundation changes

Peace River diversion still on track for this fall

B.C. Hydro’s plan to have the third dam on the Peace River complete and in service by 2024 has been set back by work scaling down due to COVID-19 restrictions on construction projects, and additional foundation strengthening for the powerhouse and spillway.

In a progress report filed with the B.C. Utilities Commission July 31, B.C. Hydro CEO Chris O’Riley says the Site C project is still on track to divert the Peace River through a pair of tunnels and begin in-river work. But that too has been complicated by geological conditions. The financial impact of the coronavirus delays and additional work will be better known in the fall, O’Riley said.

“Pandemic-related delays will present further cost pressure on the budget,” O’Riley wrote in a letter to BCUC chair David Morton. “As the evolution of the pandemic is uncertain and the date of resolution is unknown, various cost and scheduled impact scenarios continue to be assessed and refined as part of the re-baselining process.”

The incoming NDP government reluctantly decided to carry on with Site C, after former premier Christy Clark vowed to push the project “past the point of no return” before the 2017 B.C. election. In doing so, Premier John Horgan approved an updated cost estimate of $10.7 billion to complete it, an increase of about $1 billion from the initial estimate.

RELATED: Site C dam project carries on under NDP government

RELATED: NDP pays off $1.1B in B.C. Hydro debt, seeks rate cut

RELATED: After losing at every level, West Moberly sues again

Now the combined effects of COVID-19 and a series of problems have pushed the cost up by an amount not yet known. Those issues included changes to the main civil works contract, increased costs of reservoir clearing, power line construction and highway realignment, and first nations treaty infringement claims and an injunction application.

“Towards the end of December 2019, investigations and analysis of geological mapping and monitoring activities completed during construction identified that some foundation enhancements would be required to increase the stability below the powerhouse, spillway and future dam core areas,” O’Riley wrote.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Site C was on track for completion by fall 2023 and full service to the B.C. Hydro grid by 2024.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureCoronavirusSite C

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The property on which a residential school (pictured) that was torn down years ago in Lower Post is to be the location of a cultural centre. (Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre photo)
Lower Post residential school building to be demolished, replaced with cultural centre

Project to be funded by federal and provincial governments, Daylu Dena Council

The Cancer Care Unit at Prince Rupert Regional Hospital, April 14, will benefit from a $100,000 donation from Prince Rupert Port Authority towards renovations. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Prince Rupert Port Authority donates $100,000 to hospital renovations

Cancer Care Unit at PRRH to undergo upgradesat PRRH to undergo upgrades

Teresa Van sorts bottles at the April 10 Rainmakers Interact Club bottle drive to earn funds for six Seabin garbage collection units for harbours and waterfronts in the local region. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Bottle drive successful with more collected than can be sorted in one day

Rainmakers Interact Club supports local community with funds toward ocean garbage collection units

Flights are to resume to Prince Rupert and Sandspit airports under an Air Canada and federal government $5.9 billion agreement that was reached on April 12. A plane is seen through the window on the tarmac of Vancouver International Airport as the waiting room is empty Tuesday, June 9, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
$5.879 billion agreement between Air Canada and Fed’s will assist YPR in re-opening

Prince Rupert Regional Airport to reopen flights by June 1st, if not earlier

BC Housing townhouses on Kootenay Ave. were demolished during March to make way for new affordable residential units by Prince Rupert Indigenous Housing Society. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Despite a recent reduction in units project will still be able to house many

Prince Rupert Indigenous Housing Society says 60 units is still the plan

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

The father of Aaliyah Rosa planted a tree and laid a plaque in her memory in 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)
Final witness will extend Langley child murder trial into May or June

Lengthy trial began last autumn with COVID and other factors forcing it to take longer than expected

The corner of 96th Avenue and Glover Road in Fort Langley now has traffic signals, and new “touchless” signal activation buttons. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Busy Fort Langley intersection gets ‘touchless’ crosswalk signals

The new traffic light started operation in April

A crossing guard stops traffic as students wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 arrive at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. A number of schools in the Fraser Health region, including Woodward Hill, have reported cases of the B.1.7.7 COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-infected students in Lower Mainland schools transmitting to 1 to 2 others: data

Eight to 13 per cent of COVID cases among students in the Lower Mainland were acquired in schools, B.C. says

Norm Scott, president of Royal Canadian Legion Branch # 91, is disappointed the Legion does not qualify for COVID financial assistance from the provincial government. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C.’s pandemic aid package passing Legion branches by

Federal non-profit status stymies provincial assistance eligibility

Latest modelling by public health shows cases generated by COVID-19 infections into places where it can spread quickly. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
Industrial sites, pubs, restaurants driving COVID-19 spread in B.C.

Infection risk higher in offices, retail, warehouses, farms

Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller said it would be “very challenging and not very safe” for him and his teammates to play as scheduled on Friday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Canucks’ return to ice postponed again after players voice COVID health concerns

Friday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers was called off after the team met virtually with the NHLPA

B.C. Attorney General David Eby, Minister Responsible for Housing. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. announces $2B for affordable, middle-income family home projects

HousingHub financing to encourage more developers, groups – with low-interest loans – to build affordable homes

Most Read