The temporary bridge built across the Peace River for construction of the Site C dam. BC Hydro.

Winter work stoppage prompts Site C layoffs

BC Hydro says such fluctuations are normal, but work could continue into early winter

BC Hydro confirms about 200 workers at the Site C dam construction project have been laid off by the consortium that holds the main civil works contract.

A spokeswoman with the provincial Crown corporation says the Peace River Hydro Partners announced it is stopping some work over the winter season.

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A statement issued by BC Hydro says that while such fluctuations are normal in a construction project, it believes work can continue into early winter and has asked the partnership group to reconsider its decision.

The B.C. Utilities Commission said in a preliminary review released last week that it needs more information about the $8.8-billion project in order to determine if the dam is viable.

The dam was started without the usual utilities commission review under former Liberal premier Christy Clark, but New Democrat Premier John Horgan asked the commission to look at the project shortly after taking office.

The panel’s preliminary report said the project was on track for completion in 2024, but added it didn’t have enough information to determine if the $1.8 billion spent by June 30 means the project is on budget.

The panel also said it was concerned that Hydro had already spent 45 per cent of its $794-million contingency budget.

The final report from the utilities commission is due Nov. 1, and work on the project was expected to continue.

“We will continue to work closely with our contractor on the construction schedule to find ways to mitigate these layoffs over the winter so work can continue,” a statement from BC Hydro said.

Site C would be the third dam on the Peace River and would flood an 83-kilometre stretch of the valley.

The utilities commission is holding hearings around the province on the project that has faced angry opposition from Peace Valley landowners, First Nations and environmentalists.

The Canadian Press