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How ‘local’ is the Site C workforce? A look at the numbers

Last month, BC Hydro released its July stats on the Site C workforce, giving us 12 months of data on who’s working on the controversial dam project on the Peace River.
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Workers at the Site C construction camp this spring. After 12 months of construction, British Columbians have averaged between 65-82 per cent of the workforce on the dam.

Last month, BC Hydro released its July stats on the Site C workforce, giving us 12 months of data on who’s working on the controversial dam project on the Peace River.

So how “local” is the workforce on Site C?

That depends on your definition of local, and on BC Hydro’s own reporting requirements.

In the Peace Region, local hiring has been one of the major concerns about the project. A common complaint is the number of “red” (Alberta) licence plates on trucks parked at muster points near the $8.8 billion project worksite. 

Between the start of construction and July 2016, the most recent month for which data is available, the overall Site C construction workforce ranged between 390 and around 1,400 employees.

In that time, the number of B.C. workers has ranged between 65 and 82 per cent, averaging 73 per cent.


For the first ten months of construction, Site C officials reported only whether an employee was a B.C. or out-of-province resident.

BC Hydro began reporting the number of Peace River Regional District (PRRD) residents in June and July, after a Dawson Creek Mirror/Alaska Highway News article on how the number of PRRD residents on the project was not being tracked despite apparent obligations to do so.

In those two months, 46-47 per cent of the workforce had an address in the regional district. That percentage was lower if the engineering and project team staff are factored in.

There have been a number of controversies regarding local hires, including a job posting that was altered to remove a reference to Temporary Foreign Workers, and a contractor who said he would not hire B.C. university graduates because of an oil and gas divestment campaign. In August, the B.C. Building Trades claimed Site C job fairs around Northern B.C. were a costly publicity stunt which could have been avoided by hiring their members.

A number of groups, including the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), say B.C. has a history of building major hydroelectric projects with nearly all-B.C. workforces. Site C does not have specific local hire requirements, but BC Hydro says it aims to hire in the region before seeking out-of-province labour. The province, meanwhile, says local hire provisions could add up to $3 billion to the dam’s price tag.

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