As the Site C dam project inches toward the intense scrutiny of the environmental assessment process, it’s worth reflecting on the differences between an energy project today and one built in decades past, such as the Bennett Dam.
When the Bennett Dam was built in the 1960s in the Peace River country of northeastern B.C., the construction crew simply showed up with their tools and started working.
Not so today. B.C. Hydro estimates it will spend $300 million on the Site C dam environmental review process, including scores of studies of animal and fish populations, along with extensive archaeological, historical and other studies.
None of these considerations figured in any significant way when the Bennett Dam was built.
Site C provides us with a rare opportunity to build upon the past in an environmentally sensitive way and to make the most of the water already stored behind the Bennett Dam, by using it to generate clean hydro power a second time on its way downstream.
The persuasive efficiency of Site C, and the unparalleled environmental scrutiny it has already undergone, bode well for the project.
That’s why, once any potential impacts have been addressed or mitigated, I’m cautiously optimistic Site C will pass through the formal assessment process with flying colours.