The Site C Dam has been a controversial topic for British Columbians with its fair share of detractors – and now the former chair of the project’s review panel is adding his voice.
Dr. Harry Swain, who chaired the review panel from 2013 to 2014, spoke to Simi Sara about his objections to the project.
Swain says plans for the dam initially started out as reasonable, but parameters have changed dramatically in the years since.
His main point of contention at the time was B.C. Hydro’s demand forecast, which said the need for hydroelectric power would increase.
Swain says that forecast still hasn’t come true.
“The rationale for the project has always depended on a two per cent per year increase in demand, and it’s just not occurring.”
Swain went on to say the panel identified at least 15 “significant adverse impacts” to the environment, which continue to go unaddressed, despite federal approval of the project.
Prior to Site C, the federal government had not approved any project with more than two of those impacts.
Though he’s not surprised, Swain says it’s still disappointing.
“It’s a bit of a poke in the eye for the environmental assessment process generally.”
Looking toward the future, Swain says recent decisions by the B.C. Liberals toward projects like Site C have put possible biases into perspective.
“The level of independence of Hydro from the government, or for that matter the Utilities Commission from the government is questionable.”
A recent survey from Insights West found that 73 per cent of British Columbians suggest sending the project for independent review, and stopping construction on the dam altogether.
Swain says the results of that survey were gratifying, as it shows that much of B.C. agrees that Site C needs another look.