UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Contested Knowledges in Hydroelectric Project Assessment: The Case of Canada’s Site C Project Bakker, Karen; Hendriks, Richard


This paper analyzes contestation over aspects of the Site C Project on the Peace River in northeastern British Columbia, Canada. The $10.7 billion project, which is now under construction, has been vigorously debated for over 30 years. Initially proposed in the 1980s, project approval was not granted following review by the BC Utilities Commission, as the need for the project was not established. In 2010, the provincial government enacted legislation to exempt the project from future review by the BC Utilities Commission; an environmental assessment was initiated in 2012 and a constrained review by the Commission was undertaken in 2017, after construction had commenced. The paper explores key examples of contested knowledge regimes within the review process, focusing on debates over cumulative effects and greenhouse gas emissions. The analysis provides technical examples of the ways in which differing societal values are deployed and co-produced within regulatory processes.

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CC BY 4.0