Tory Resolve Stiffens To Cancel Bipole Route

Manitoba’s Progressive Conservatives say they are determined to prevent the proposed western route for the Bipole III transmission line, following a recent protest meeting by local residents.

The Oct. 1 rally in St. Claude drew over 160 people worried about what the line will mean for them, said local MLA Blaine Pedersen, who hosted the meeting.

“Landowners are very concerned about the impacts this line could have on their livelihoods,” said Pedersen (PC, Carman).

Manitoba Hydro is running the 500,000-volt power line, scheduled to start construction two years from now, down from the north along the west side of Lake Manitoba. Much of the route will be through farm and pasture land.

Opponents want the 1,372- km line to take a shorter and cheaper route along the east side of Lake Winnipeg, where there is less privately owned land.

But the NDP government rejects that route because it would go through eastern Manitoba’s environmentally sensitive boreal forest.

Hydro has sent letters to residents directly affected by the western route telling them the line will run through their properties and they will have to grant easements.

Pedersen said people at the Oct. 1 meeting had all kinds of questions which they say Hydro isn’t answering about the controversial transmission line.

Those include: Are cattle on pasture under the lines affected by magnetic fields? Will there be stray voltage in dairy barns? Do power lines affect GPS systems on farm equipment? Is there any effect on human health?

“Our landowners should not be expected to make any decisions about this until they have some sort of answers,” said Pedersen.

“If you want me to sign off and give Hydro an easement across my land where my cattle are, I think I have the right to ask those questions and receive answers.”

Pedersen said local residents feel Hydro refuses to communicate with them about their concerns. But Glenn Schneider, a Hydro spokesperson, said the Crown corporation held two all-day landowner information sessions in St. Claude Sept. 2 and 10.

Hydro has also scheduled a round of 18 regional open houses on Bipole III Oct. 5 to Nov. 9. It is the fourth and final round of open houses held since the project was announced.

The project will go to the Clean Environment Commission in mid-2011 for environmental approval. A permit, if granted, is expected to happen a year later. Construction could begin in late 2012 after Hydro negotiates easements and compensation packages with affected landowners. No agreements can be signed before the CEC ruling, Schneider said.

Pedersen said his party will bring residents’ concerns to the legislative Crown corporations committee when it meets Oct. 25.

The PCs vow to cancel the western route if they achieve power in the next provincial election scheduled for Oct. 4, 2011. [email protected]


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