Category: Budget & Estimate Disasters

Dots that may connect – UPDATED

With news the BC Ferries vessel Spirit of British Columbia is about to sail to Europe for an extensive refit, I bump this article back to the top. – In October 2015, the Commissioner approved $173 million for the project but, as evidenced by the confidential order three months later, increased the approved amount by $46 million to $219 million. Instead of five times cost of the last refits, the 2016 multiplier is eight. So, whether it is $140, $173, $219 millions or an even higher cost subsequently revealed, whether the contract is completed by 2018, 2019 or later, I predict the refits will be advertised as completed on-time, on-budget. That tag is applied to all BC Liberal projects, no matter how many times the budget or completion date must be altered.

From the news archives: Site C history

Large dams run 96 percent over budget on average, according to a University of Oxford study based on projects in 65 countries including Brazil and China. The study, published in the journal Energy Policy, showed that large dams also took about 2.3 years longer to complete than originally planned. That was about 44 percent longer than projected at the point of approval. The research was based on a study of 245 dams…

Stakes high, LNG bets unsafe

Today Pacific Northwest LNG announced what has been obvious for a considerable time. Unless the provincial government was prepared to guarantee profits and underwrite losses, the project was not proceeding. The writing was on the wall when this In-Sights article was published in 2014.

Certainty of Site C massive cost overrun is 86% (from 2014)

BC’s Minister of Energy said in mid October that the $7.9 billion budget for Site C had been examined by top international experts and was assuredly “reliable.” Two months later, Premier Clark revealed the dam budget had jumped to $8.5 billion. Days passed and when project approval was announced, the budget had jumped to $8.775 billion. Once again, the British Columbia Liberals demonstrate practiced mendacity. They are consistent though since mega-projects of the past five years typically doubled between first announcement and completion but were invariably pronounced to be on-time and on-budget. The mantra will be used again…

Liberal estimates and guesstimates

A brisk building boom of hydropower mega-dams is underway from China to Brazil. Whether benefits of new dams will outweigh costs remains unresolved despite contentious debates. …We find overwhelming evidence that budgets are systematically biased below actual costs of large hydropower dams — excluding inflation, substantial debt servicing, environmental, and social costs. …The outside view suggests that in most countries large hydropower dams will be too costly in absolute terms and take too long to build to deliver a positive risk-adjusted return

Designed to mislead

The British Columbia Liberal 2001 election platform had 37 references promising improved democracy, increased accountability or more open government. Its 2013 platform had none, because the party had lost interest in the goals, not because they had been attained. If ever any party strayed far from principles that first got it elected government, it is the one led today by Christy Clark. If you doubt my assertion, read through A New Era for British Columbia. That document was prepared by Gordon Campbell and his associates. Some will believe that it was a pack of lies from the start. Others would argue — excepting the page 9 promise to “not sell or privatize BC Rail” — that the Liberal Party started with good intentions and lost its way, corrupted by wealth and power…

Port Mann losses “unsustainable”

Since toll revenue at Port Mann has covered only 39% of operating costs, the BC Government needs to explain how it will finance existing and future shortfalls on Port Mann/Highway 1. These are growing by about $5 million a month and paying for an even more costly tunnel replacement will demand a solution. One possibility was proposed in the original Gateway Program. It contemplated: “…tolling of all bridges connecting to the Burrard Peninsula, including the Lions Gate, Ironworkers Memorial, Pitt River, Port Mann, Pattullo, Alex Fraser, Knight Street, Oak Street and Arthur Laing bridges…”

Vancouver Sun and snake oil rhetoric

Overall, says Dermod Travis of Integrity B.C., the Gateway transportation plan — other components include the Port Mann Bridge replacement, widening of the Trans-Canada Highway, and the North Fraser Perimeter Road — overshot budget estimates by more than $2 billion. Travis warns that of 18 projects announced by the B.C. government since 2003, nine hospitals are over-budget by 12.6 per cent, seven transportation projects are 59.2 per cent over budget, and the Vancouver Convention Centre Expansion Project and a new roof for B.C. Place were 68.1 per cent over budget. Then there are the provincial government’s large-scale information technology projects. Reporters Lori Culbert and Rob Shaw found them plagued by operational problems, behind schedule, and $350 million over budget… Finally, there is the abysmal B.C. Hydro file…

Sea to Sky Highway subsidy $12-$15 each vehicle

It wasn’t on budget for the public but probably was for the private companies hidden behind the Sea-to-Sky Highway Investment Limited Partnership. Liberals are masters of public finance in one particular way. They deliver opportunities to deal makers and deal flippers, with details of all transactions hidden from view. It wasn’t long before the first flip happened on the Sea-to-Sky project.