Manitoba Hydro says its preferred route for the Bipole I I I high-voltage transmission line from northern Manitoba to Winnipeg affects the least amount of farmland.
The 1,364-km route for the 500-kV high-voltage, direct current transmission line was announced last week. If approved the line will start north of Gillam, go southwest to The Pas, then south parallel to Lake Manitoba turning east near St. Claude and then go north to Winnipeg just east of Niverville.
Keystone Agricultural Producers’ president Ian Wishart said of the three western routes Hydro is considering, “route B” affects the least cultivated acres.
“We’re disappointed they didn’t consider the eastern route, but of the three routes they picked on the west side it’s the one with the least annually cropped agricultural land,” Wishart said in an interview July 29. “There is actually more pasture and hayland involved than in some others and it is slightly shorter than some of the others too. I guess our job now is to make sure the guys impacted get treated fairly.”
Wishart, who has a high-voltage line running across some of his land near Portage la Prairie, said they are a nuisance.
“You lose a bit around each tower and there are weed issues and it wipes (out) the GPS when you’re spraying,” he said.
The opposition Progressive Conservatives want the transmission line built on the east side of Lake Winnipeg, shaving 500 km off the length, which would save hundreds of millions of dollars in construction costs.
The NDP government says building there could prevent the isolated boreal forest from becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The eastern route would also be criticized by environmentalists, which could make it harder for Hydro to export power to the United States.
Hydro is starting negotiations with 1,000 farmers and ranchers over compensation, according to theWinnipeg Free Press.The newspaper says with a property acquisition budget of $37 million, Hydro will be offering as much as 135 per cent of the assessed value of each 66-metre-wide parcel upon which the towers will be built.
The route avoids national and provincial parks, and First Nations reserve lands, Manitoba Hydro said in a news release.
Manitoba Hydro has developed a Community Development Initiative (CDI), which will provide around $5 million a year for 10 years to communities in the vicinity of the Bipole III facilities.
Hydro will begin a series of meetings with municipalities and Aboriginal groups next month and will hold open houses to get the public’s views on the route.
A series of Landowner Information Centres will be set up for landowners whose property may be affected by the project. “Manitoba Hydro will provide a fair and equitable compensation package for landowners affected by the preferred right-of-way,” Hydro said. “Manitoba Hydro will also seek to minimize impacts on agricultural land, including avoiding diagonal cuts across properties.”