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Supply Post Western Canada Edition · supplypost.com Continued from page 59

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The assets we’re building last, so there’s a sense of... permanence is probably a bit of an exaggeration... but there’s a long tail to the decisions we make. The decisions we make here have lasting effects, so you have to make good ones.” RK: Let’s talk about the W.A.C. Bennett Dam. What makes this 50-yearold dam so special? CO: “The scale of the ambition was remarkable. It’s hard to compare to today. People talk about Site C and say it’s the biggest project we’ve ever done, but that’s not true at all. Site C will be the fourth largest dam in our system. It’s big, but not the biggest. Bennett was a massive undertaking. For the population of B.C. at the time [1.8 million compared to 4.7 million today], and for the size of BC Hydro, it was unbelievable to take that on. “What struck me is that they hadn’t yet fully commercialized the technology to transmit the power to Vancouver when they decided to build the dam. That’s just an indication of the ambition. That technology wasn’t ready yet. So

November 2017 by the time they started construction of Bennett Dam, it was a risk to get power to the city, and a challenge to be overcome. To do that today would be incomprehensible. Your risk-management practices wouldn’t allow you to do such a thing.” RK: At the opening of the new First Nations “Our Story, Our Voice” gallery at the Bennett Dam Visitor Centre last year, you talked about how an iconic picture of the dam and reservoir obscures the full story of its impacts. That story is about First Nations people being forced to move their homes and communities because the reservoir flooded their villages and disrupted their transportation routes. How was that allowed to happen? CO: “The Bennett Dam was constructed in a different time. There was no dialogue or engagement, no opportunity for discussion or accommodation. First Nations were considered to be people in the way, and that’s how they were treated. It’s a terrible stain on the history of the province.” “The dam was built in a completely different

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context. It was before Aboriginal rights were recognized in the Constitution, before the Supreme Court had established expectations around First Nations consultation and accommodation. And it was at a time when people didn’t understand Aboriginal rights – we still had residential schools, and people weren’t aware of what went on there and what that meant to people who were forced to go there. “The agreements were an important step, but they were just a step on the path to reconciliation.” RK: Has BC Hydro done enough to make amends to those First Nations? CO: “We signed financial settlement agreements to resolve historical grievances with the Kwadacha and the Tsay Keh Dene First Nations, agreements that took years to negotiate. The agreements provided some benefit, but only a measure of closure for BC Hydro and the people who were impacted. At this point it was almost two generations later, and I’m still struck when I go up there at the very current sense of injury that people

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Supply Post West November 2017  
Supply Post West November 2017  

November 2017 Supply Post Newspaper Western Canada edition