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Industry voices support for Site C project approval

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by Russell Hixson

The construction industry is resoundingly supporting the decision to move forward with the Site C project, but other organizations are less enthusiastic about the megaproject.
Industry voices support for Site C project approval

The $8.75 billion project is scheduled to start in 2015 and wrap up in 2024.

"Site C is the right project at the right time for the future of British Columbia and our economy," said Philip Hochstein, president, Independent Contractors and Businesses Association of B.C.

"This is the kind of project that will be a legacy for generations. By moving forward with Site C, BC Hydro can ensure our province has enough clean, renewable energy to power our province for decades to come."

BC Hydro estimates it will generate about 10,000 direct jobs and an additional 23,000 indirect jobs, as well as contribute $3.2 billion to B.C.'s GDP.

Site C is expected to generate power for more than a century.

Hochstein also added that both environmental and governmental approval sends a strong signal that B.C. is open for business and can and will approve major infrastructure projects.

"Site C helps give this province a competitive advantage in attracting investment that will strengthen our communities, enabling us to build more hospitals and highways, and fund more doctors and nurses," he said.

"The Government of B.C. has balanced responsible economic development with fiscal prudence and sound businesses practices to get to yes on this project."

He noted that the economic benefits the project will generate will include thousands of jobs during construction.

Others agree.

"This project is an investment in the future of our great province," said Jack Davidson, president of B.C. Road Builders & Heavy Construction Association.

"It'll provide workers with jobs, and protect the competitive advantage British Columbians and local businesses have with some of the lowest power rates in North America."

The B.C. arm of the Association of Consulting Engineers (ACEC-BC) also praised the project approval.

"B.C. is experiencing a period of economic development in a number of sectors that will lead to more jobs, increased government revenues and enhanced prosperity," said Keith Sashaw, president and CEO, ACEC-BC.

"These major projects require access to stable and dependable power, and Site C can help deliver a secure source of power for generations."

Sashaw stated that the Site C construction will provide stable and dependable power that will create employment opportunities throughout B.C. as various resource-based projects proceed.

"This decision to move forward with Site C also provides a boost in confidence to British Columbians at a time when there is so much uncertainty surrounding major projects," he added.

"British Columbians, especially our engineers, are leaders when it comes to major infrastructure projects, and Site C is an opportunity to build on B.C.'s global reputation for expertise in engineering and can contribute to creating a centre of excellence for engineering services."

Other groups scolded B.C. for moving ahead on the project.

"This is an ill-advised and incredibly stupid decision the province has made regarding the Site C Project," stated Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs in a release.

"BC Hydro has failed to make its case in terms of future energy demands and have not adequately outlined an economic business case for construction and repayment of the most expensive capital project in the history of B.C."

The union argued that the dam and its structures will run directly through the heart of Treaty 8 First Nations territories.

They saw it will have devastating impacts on treaty rights of Treaty 8 First Nations.

It stated the approval violates fundamental First Nations human rights.

"Approval of this project signals to First Nations across B.C. that their values, beliefs, title, Aboriginal rights, and treaty rights will essentially be trampled upon, cast aside and disregarded whenever government deems a project economically important and significant," said Bob Chamberlin, vice president of the union.

"Treaty 8 First Nations and many others in northeast B.C. have raised serious concerns about this project. The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs will continue to support and stand with the impacted Treaty 8 First Nations to ensure that this project does not proceed."

The David Suzuki Foundation also expressed dismay about the clean energy project.

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