Horgan on Site C: ‘dammed’ if did, ‘dammed’ if he didn’t

Horgan on Site C: ‘dammed’ if did, ‘dammed’ if he didn’t

B.C. premier didn’t like keeping massive hydro damn project going, but felt he had to

Love it or hate it, former B.C. premier Christy Clark was right—the massive, and controversial, Site C hydro dam project really was “beyond the point of no return.”

Her successor, NDP Premier John Horgan, made that clear Monday. He said he didn’t want to do it, but when faced with a $4 billion bill his new government would have had to swallow for work already done, site remediation and to get out of contracts already signed, he left project on the table.

To the chagrin of many in his party and B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver, who has already started making noise about recalling the environment minister over the decision, Horgan gave the project the green light to continue. Oh, and by the way, the project has a new price tag for completion: $10.5 billion.

Clark had said she wanted the mega project on the Peace River in Northern B.C. to be so far along Horgan could not cancel it if his party wrestled power from hers following last May’s squeaker of a provincial election. When the NDP did just that, and sent the project to the B.C. Utilities Commission for study, many thought the end was nigh for Site C. After all, Horgan had railed against it while in opposition.

The B.C. Liberals were wringing their hands saying the project was as good as dead under the NDP and that was making a huge mistake. On Monday, they were applauding.

A funny thing happened to Horgan on his way to the legislature. He discovered that governing is very different from being in opposition. In opposition, the realities of life can be suspended when it comes to criticism and arguing against something the government of the day is doing. But when you are the one responsible for the making the decisions that matter, standing on principle can be a slippery surface.

Horgan said he was not willing to burden this generation of British Columbians, and the next, with the $4 billion bill for a project that would not see the light of day. So Site C goes ahead.

It’s unlikely, however, that Weaver and his two other B.C. Green MLAs, whose support is keeping the NDP in power, will pull the plug on the government over the issue. But to say they‘re unhappy would be an understatement. Election reform and the killing of Site C appeared to be the two big issues the Greens hoped to see happen as a result of their support for the NDP.

Election reform could still happen—that will be up to the voters in a referendum next year—but the death of Site C was, to quote Mark Twain “a great exaggeration.”

Horgan was stuck in a no-win situation. But he did deal early with what many believe was be the biggest decision he’ll face as premier during the current mandate.

Now he has to hope the old adage about voters having short memories is true.

Alistair Waters is the assistant editor of the Capital News.

Just Posted

Craft Culture Events hosts its first of four summer markets at Prospera Place in Kelowna (Craft Culture Events/Contributed).
Kelowna’s Prospera Place summer market a success

Craft Culture Events hosts its first of four summer markets and vendors were ‘excited’ to be back

Lightning in Kelowna, B.C. (Contributed)
Severe thunderstorm watch in effect for Okanagan

Conditions are favourable for the development of severe thunderstorms overnight

(Dave Ogilvie/Contributed)
UPDATE: West Kelowna fire crews rescue injured mountain biker

The injury took place at the top of Smith Creek Road

Kelowna flags were flown at half-mast after the discovery of a residential school burial site in Kamloops. (File photo)
Central Okanagan school board chair reflects on recent tragedies

Moyra Baxter offers condolenses to residential school victims, slain Muslim family

The RCMP presence in Central Okanagan public schools is being reviewed by the board of education. (File photo)
RCMP presence welcomed in Central Okanagan public schools

Staff survey feedback overwhelmingly positive from students, staff and parents

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Jane Linden
KCR: Volunteering keeps you active

Kelowna Community Resources shares stories of its volunteers in a weekly column

Cruise ship passengers arrive at Juneau, Alaska in 2018. Cruise lines have begun booking passengers for trips from Seattle to Alaska as early as this July, bypassing B.C. ports that are not allowed to have visitors until March 2022 under a Canadian COVID-19 restrictions. (Michael Penn/Juneau Empire)
B.C. doesn’t depend on U.S. law to attract cruise ships, Horgan says

Provinces to get update next week on Canada’s border closure

This undated photo provided by Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails shows a scout donating cookies to firefighters in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, as part of the Hometown Heroes program. As the coronavirus pandemic wore into the spring selling season, many Girl Scout troops nixed their traditional cookie booths for safety reasons. That resulted in millions of boxes of unsold cookies. (Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails via AP)
Thinner Mints: Girl Scouts have millions of unsold cookies

Since majority of cookies are sold in-person, pandemic made the shortfall expected

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

In this artist’s sketch, Nathaniel Veltman makes a video court appearance in London, Ont., on June 10, 2021 as Justice of the Peace Robert Seneshen (top left) and lawyer Alayna Jay look on. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alexandra Newbould
Terror charges laid against London attack suspect

Crown says Nathaniel Veltman’s four counts of first-degree murder constitute an act of terrorism

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province's fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Longtime SOWINS volunteer Diane Fru (far left) walks with members of her family as they Walk To End Abuse Sunday, June 13, 2021. South Okanagan Women In Needs Society (SOWINS) raised a record amount this year. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Walk to End Abuse in South Okanagan breaks fundraising record

More than $53,000 raised so far while the pandemic has increased need for SOWINS’ services

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

Most Read