Site C decision riles Richmond New Democrats

Coun. Harold Steves sides with Greens in condemning dam decision

Richmond’s block of B.C. New Democrats were evidence of the deep divide within the province’s ruling party regarding Premier John Horgan’s Site C dam approval Monday.

Following Horgan’s announcement that his government would proceed with the project, Coun. Harold Steves took to Twitter to profess his misgivings at what he called the “New Dinosaur Party.”

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“Speaking of dinosaurs, I was a founding member of the NDP in 1961, but it has taken me 50 years to find out what the “D” stands for. It’s the New Dinosaur Party,” said Steves.

Horgan announced Site C would be completed at a now inflated $10.7 billion. The original cost was $8.3 billion when the BC Liberal government announced construction. 

“Megaproject mismanagement by the old government has left B.C. in a terrible situation,” said Horgan on Monday. 

“But we cannot punish British Columbians for those mistakes, and we can’t change the past. We can only make the best decision for the future,” said Horgan. “It’s clear that Site C should never have been started.” 

As such, the province escapes an estimated $3.9 billion bill for cancelling the project ($2.1 billion already spent and another $1.8 billion in remediation costs).

At issue for Steves and many others is the fact vast swaths of farmland will be lost to the dam, which will produce power that is likely not needed in the near to mid-term, unless it is used for excavating and refining fossil fuels, such as LNG. Further concerns surround First Nations treaties in the region.

Steves maintains future power demand can come from wind, rooftop solar panels and geothermal energy centres within cities, like in Richmond. 

The decision ripped apart the NDP, with Steves leading the way on Twitter, even going so far as to call for the resignation of Michelle Mungall, B.C. Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, and George Heyman, B.C. Minister of Environment.

They “should do the honourable thing and resign from Cabinet,” wrote Steves on Monday.

Steves likened the rift to when the NDP allowed for the arrest of hundreds of old-growth forest logging protesters in Clayquot Sound.

He retweeted a person who claimed she had just cancelled her BCNDP membership and monthly donation.

Steves, a vocal opponent of big money in politics, alluded to the fact the big trade unions had coopted the party.

“The building trades have driven a wedge through the heart of the #BCNDP one more time,” Tweeted Steves.

Meanwhile, the decision was also opposed by politically active Richmond New Democrats Kelly Greene and Jack Trovato, who have long opposed the project’s continuation.

“Profoundly disappointed?” Yep. British Columbia is going to be shovelling endless amounts of money into a BCLib shaped pit. #MuskratFalls #SiteC,” Tweeted Greene, alluding to the Muskrat Falls, Nfld. hydro dam that has been widely criticized for financial mismanagement.

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