BY BILL PHILLIPS
Three different candidates, three different positions on the Site C dam.
On the right, Liberal Mike Morris supports the $9 billion mega-project, in the middle New Democrat Bobby Deepak isn’t necessarily opposed but wants an independent review, and on the left Green candidate Hilary Crowley wants it scrapped.
It all made for a lively debate between the three at the all-candidates forum at UNBC Tuesday.
“I’m a supporter of Site C, much to the chagrin of both my colleagues,” said Morris. “People talk about solar, people talk about wind power, but when the wind’s not blowing and the sun’s not shining, we need power from someplace. Williston Lake is that big battery that we need for back up.”
Williston Lake will provide decades of power for the province, he said.
“Maybe 50 years from now we’ll be taking our power from the sun, or from other source,” he said. “But in the interim, for the foreseeable for the next several decades we’re going to be very reliant on Site C and that clean hydro power.”
Crowley pointed the irony that Hudson Hope, the community closest to the Site C dam on the Peace River, is converting all its municipal buildings to solar energy.
“I have to disagree with what you’re saying,” said Crowley. “Site C is not necessary, we have enough electricity.”
Deepak pointed out that the Liberal government did not go through the usual process of having the B.C. Utilities Commission review the project before giving it the green light, thus making it a political decision to build the dam.
“She made it a political decision because she couldn’t point to any jobs here in the North,” he said. “LNG didn’t happen. The only job they created was for Gordon Wilson (appointed by the Liberal government as B.C.’s LNG advocate).”
He said argument that Site C is needed to supply B.C.’s energy demand is the Liberals’ message.
“We don’t know because the B.C. Utilities Commission didn’t get the opportunity to assess what energy needs that we have and what we need for the future,” Deepak said, adding a New Democratic government would ask the utilities commission to conduct such an assessment.
“So in the interim are you going to issue 2,100 pink slips?” asked Morris, referring to the people already working at the site.
“No we’re not,” said Deepak. “I don’t know why you keep on saying that. What we’re going to do is put the question to the B.C. Utilities Commission where it should have been in the first place.”
Morris said there is no project in British Columbia that has been studied more than the Site C dam.
Crowley said she knows Chief Robert Wilson of the West Moberly Band and said he was almost in tears when the decision to go ahead with Site C was made.
British Columbians go to the polls May 9.