Oct. 20, 2020

Time for government to report on Site C costs

I think most reasonable people in this Province would think that it is time and necessary for the Government to inform the taxpayers on Site C issues. Hence this letter. 

Fazil Mihlar
Deputy Minister
Department of Energy, Mines, Petroleum Resources
Government of British Columbia 

Subject : Site C Project 

Dear Mr. Mihlar 

As a result of a letter from the President Of BC Hydro to the President of BC Utilities Commission dated July 31, 2020, your Minister issued a press release on the same day concerning the matters discussed in that letter. 

The matters concerned delays to the project related to Covid-19 but also matters relating to technical problems that had arisen in the development of the project. They concerned stability on the right bank affecting the bank and “that some foundation enhancements would be required to increase the stability below the powerhouse, spillway and future dam core areas.” The letter further stated that . . . “Based on further engineering analysis of the proposed mitigation measures, the foundation enhancement costs are anticipated to be more substantial than initially expected in January.”

In the press release your minister appointed a person to work as special advisor to BC Hydro and the Project Assurance Board: 

“Today, I am announcing the appointment of Peter Milburn as a special advisor to work with BC Hydro and the Project Assurance Board.” The Release concludes: “As a former deputy minister of finance and secretary to Treasury Board, I fully expect Mr. Milburn will play an important role in reviewing the project and will provide the government with independent advice.”

When could the public expect some information on the progress of Mr. Milburn’s talks with BC Hydro? That release was July 31 and this is October 19. For example, some description on the nature of the stability issues at the powerhouse, spillway and dam areas. Additionally, some estimate of extra costs would be very relevant and some estimates on extra time this will mean to the schedule? There is also some concern about conflict of interest in that Mr. Milburn has worked with the government before and may not be perceived as independent regardless of his expertise. 

This letter will be made public. 

Your truly,
Honourable A. Brian Peckford PC

C. C. Honourable Bruce Ralston, Minister
Chris O’Riley, President, BC Hydro