It is easy to conclude why Premier John Horgan ignored BC’s established pattern of general elections every four years. The BC NDP was riding high in the polls but a threat to that popularity was looming. A threat not known to the general public.
It was that damn dam, Site C.
Sarah Cox and The Narwhal ascertained what a few of us surmised. The Horgan government has known for some time that BC Hydro’s Peace River megaproject was in trouble. It is sited on unstable ground and that may not be fixable.
BC NDP has been hiding the facts for some considerable time.
Sarah Cox, a diligent and admirable journalist, writes:
…Site C dam faces unknown cost overruns, schedule delays and such profound geotechnical troubles that its overall health is now classified as “red” — meaning it is in serious trouble…
The documents reveal new information about the dam’s geotechnical struggles and raise troubling questions about who in government knew about the project’s climbing costs and deepening geotechnical woes, when they knew it and why the information was not made public.
Key sections of the documents, including information pertaining to rising cost pressures and the severity of key project risks from January 2018 to January 2020, are redacted.
Even so, the documents paint a picture of a project rife with growing geotechnical issues and risks as well as safety and quality concerns — and facing a rising risk of cost overruns and schedule delays — long before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down much of the province and temporarily scaled back the Site C dam workforce in mid-March…
Governments never hide good news so rest assured that huge chunks of redacted information are filled with messaging that BC Hydro and the NDP don’t want us to know.
With the full story, John Horgan had a choice to make.
Call an election now or wait a year and risk dramatic exposure of his $12 billion dollar failure in northeast BC.
According to BC Liberals for almost two decades, NDP incompetence was behind the hundreds of millions lost in the fast ferries project of the 1990s.
By comparison, and in real dollars, Site C might be 20 times more costly than the departed aluminum catamarans. It might push John Horgan’s party into oblivion.
Knowing the risk of exposure, BC NDP chose to call an early election, despite the second Covid-19 wave, hoping to be returned to govern for another four or five years.
Even if Site C were completed as BC Hydro originally hoped, it was the most costly option available to produce electricity. So, it was a mistake from the start. But, had it been an $8 billion white elephant that produced energy, savvy public relations could have made that look okay.
As it is, Site C might be a $12 billion money pit that produces nothing but political fallout.
Politicians prefer to hide mistakes. But this risk of total Site C failure cannot be hidden for much longer.
That may explain why we’re voting on Saturday. If re-elected with a majority, BC NDP has a number of years to lie about Site C being Christy Clark’s fault, not John Horgan’s.