Dozens of Kaministiquia residents say they were blindsided when they discovered their homes are in the path of Hydro One’s proposed Waasigan Transmission Line.
“My parents had no idea about it and they are directly impacted.” says Michelle Hamer, communications coordinator for ‘Neighbours on the Line’.
Hamer and residents have been meeting for the past three weeks at the Kaministiquia Community Centre discussing the impacts the lines impact on their homes, should it be built, with many claiming not to have heard about the project at all, including residents in Dryden.
The line was first announced in 2019 and will consist of a double circuit 230-kilovolt line from Shuniah’s Lakehead Transmission Station to Atikokan’s Mackenzie Transmission Station.
From there the line would transition to a single circuit 230-kilovolt line to the Dryden Transmission Station.
The project is in response to the need to bolster power requirements in the north for mining and other economic opportunities.
It was preceded by the construction of the East West Tie, which spans from Shuniah to Wawa along the north shore of Lake Superior as well as the Wataynikaneyap Line which reaches into the far north and has connected several remote First Nations into the provincial power grid.
Several open houses have been held over the last few years on the project, however Covid-19 did limit the ability for group open houses like the several held last month.
However Hamer says hasn’t happened in her community leaving many residents who are unable to travel into Thunder Bay out of the process.
“If it was going to have an impact like this in Kaministiquia why would you not hold your open house at the Kam Hall, none of these people are driving to Oliver rec centre [Oliver Road Community Centre] especially that night, it was freezing rain, they should have had it here.”
In a statement Daniel Levitan, Hydro One’s Vice President of Stakeholder Relations says he understand the concerns being held by those along the preliminary route and are working to meet directly with landowners. and to look at ways to mitigate or minimize the impacts of the proposed project.
“We are also working with Neighbours on the Line and surrounding community to meet and ensure their questions and concerns are addressed.”
While not directly opposed to the project itself Hamer says the group just isn’t in favour of where the preferred route sits.
Hamer says many residents have been receiving compensation packages from Hydro One. The utility’s Acting Vice President of Shared Services provided this statement Wednesday afternoon.
“Late last week cheques were mailed in error to three property owners in advance of them meeting with our real estate representatives. We have made every attempt to contact these individuals to apologize for the error. Hydro One is in the process of working directly with impacted property owners to enter into voluntary Early Access Agreements for environmental and engineering studies to facilitate the final design of the proposed Waasigan Transmission Line.”
A fact sheet from Hydro One lists some of the immediate next steps for the process:
- completing an assessment to identify potential effects of the new transmission line and identifying measures to avoid or mitigate adverse effects;
- progressing with detailed design and construction planning;
- identifying real estate requirements and working with directly impacted property owners to negotiate early access easements or land purchases; and
- compiling a draft environmental assessment report for review and feedback.
Neighbours on the Line will be meeting again at Kaministiquia Community Centre, meeting starts at 7 p.m. and the meeting will be streamed via Zoom.