Farmers will be directly affected by the construction of the Bipole III power transmission line and Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP) continues to lobby the Government of Manitoba to abandon the plan to develop the west-side route.
KAP is opposed to the west-side route because it is not the right way to proceed for farmers and other ratepayers. Our members have passed resolutions opposing the route and we want all farmers and Manitobans to know that we will not let this issue be ignored.
KAP has been working on Bipole III lobby efforts for 3-1/2 years. KAP officially opposes the west-side route because it will cost every Manitoba Hydro customer extra money for capital costs.
Whether someone has the transmission line running across their field or not, they will be paying for this project through their Hydro bill. Manitoba Hydro recently confirmed that the cost of the project is now pegged at $3.28 billion. This is up from the previous estimate of $2.24 billion. It is a bad business decision for the utility to incur excessive costs for the wrong reasons.
Our members have come to us with concerns about how the transmission line will affect the way they live and work. The major issues for farmers include access land for crop production, the impact on irrigation systems, aerial spraying and being forced to manoeuvre farm equipment around towers.
Weed control around the towers is also a concern. In addition, the hazard of hitting towers with equipment looms over every farmer affected by the west-side Bipole III route. Safety and liability are major concerns and farmers are left wondering what will happen to their insurance coverage and the related costs if they ever have a claim due to contacting a tower. The potential for electromagnetic radiation to affect electronics is also on the minds of farmers.
Our members have been telling us they are not happy with the compensation that has been offered to them and they have pointed out the unfair approach Manitoba Hydro is taking by dealing with individuals one on one. Furthermore, other utility providers deliver ongoing compensation throughout the life of the related infrastructure, while Manitoba Hydro has only offered a one-time compensation package. KAP questions why Manitoba Hydro is failing to provide landowners with compensation that takes into account the long-term financial impact of farmers having to work around the transmission line.
We believe Bipole III will have a negative effect on future real estate values. People who may want to expand their farmyards or residences will not feel that it is a safe and wise investment. This leaves landowners in a no-win situation.
Bipole III should not be constructed on prime agricultural land. An east-side route is preferable because it would have less of an impact on farmers’ livelihoods.
We will continue to advocate for the west-side route to be abandoned.
Doug Chorney is president of Keystone Agricultural
Producers. He farms near East Selkirk.