Peace River, British Columbia, Canada

Construction on the 60-meter high Site C megadam began in 2015. This 1,100 MW facility is the third hydro project on the Peace River. Site C will be operated by B.C. Hydro. This dam’s cost has skyrocketed from an initial $6.6 billion to over $16 billion. It is scheduled to be completed in 2025.

Construction on the Site C megadam (Credit: Bob Fedderly)

Site C threatens the beautiful and important Peace River Valley. The construction of this dam will flood over 100 kilometers of the river valley, drowning lands, destroying ecosystems, and causing erosion. The lands that will be flooded are some of the most fertile agricultural lands in Northern B.C.

Indigenous communities in the region such as the West Moberly First Nations strongly oppose this extractive energy development on Treaty 8 territory. Similar to other megadams, Site C will disproportionately impact Indigenous communities, destroying hunting and fishing grounds and causing cultural genocide.

The Site C project is primarily being built on shale rock formations which are notoriously weak and unstable. There have been significant geotechnical concerns associated with the project that have contributed to delays and cost overages. These issues could result in the failure of the dam which would be catastrophic for those living downstream.

B.C. Hydro’s former CEO, Mark Eliesen has called for the cancelation of the project, saying, “ratepayers will face a devastating increase in their electricity bills if the Site C dam is built and emphasizes there is no rush to build new sources of power generation in B.C. Additionally, B.C.’s own Utilities Commission has admitted that there is a surplus of electricity in the province and that the electricity from Site C is not needed.

Site C timeline:

October 14, 2014 – the governments of both BC and Canada announced that the Site C dam had been granted environmental assessment approval – despite the Joint Review Panel’s acknowledgement that the project would cause irreparable harm to local First Nations, fish and wildlife populations and that no need for the power had been shown. 

December 2014 – BC provincial government of Premier Christy Clark gave the go-ahead for construction of the dam, putting the projected cost at $8.8 billion and a projected completion date of 2024.

May 2017 – Newly elected Premier John Horgan promises to put the Site C dam project before the BC Utilities Commission for an independent review of its costs vs benefits.

November 1, 2017 – BC Utilities Commission (BCUC) released their findings. The BCUC found that $2 billion had been spent on the dam project to date and that the estimated cost to complete the dam would likely balloon to well over $10 billion.

December 11, 2017 –  Premier Horgan announced that the Site C dam project was going to be completed. The projected cost was increased to $10.7 billion

February 26, 2021 – Premier Horgan announce that the projected cost of the dam was now $16 billion due additional construction costs associated with building on the unstable ground around the dam site. New completion date of 2025 announced.