Existing power line route looks like ‘desert’

Thunder Bay, Ont. — One prospective new member of the Neighbours on the Line group opposed to Hydro One’s Waasigan Transmission Line had a bird’s-eye view of the impact the existing power line has already sewn on the land.

Curtis Craig used a float plane to fly from his parents’ camp on Lakeshore Drive in the Municipality of Shuniah to his home in the Murillo area along the existing line. He witnessed the environmental damage that looked like a “desert” from the air, residents were told Wednesday at the group’s weekly meeting at the Kaministiquia Community Centre.

The approximately 375-kilometre Waasigan power line is planned to run from the Municipality of Shuniah to Dryden parallel to the existing power grid. The preliminary preferred route, as Hydro One calls it, was selected earlier this year.

The Neighbours on the Line group indicated Wednesday that more than 300 houses in and around the Kaministiquia area will be affected within 500 metres on both sides of the high-voltage power line, according to their interactive map of the area.

Although the preliminary preferred route has already been selected, Hydro One did have three other alternate routes that they unveiled at an open house on March 2 dating back to April 2019 and are considering the alternate route provided by the Neighbours assembly.

“At the Hydro One open house last week, we presented (the alternate map) route to Hydro One and they accepted it and put it into their record,” said Salmi Road resident Bryne Lamarche, a Lappe group member who helped design the alternate route. “They are well aware that we have an alternate route.

“Just (Wednesday), I got an email from Hydro One that they will meet with us. They want more information on the proposed route and the rationale why we chose that route and what we’re trying to avoid and what we’re trying to include.

“At 5:30 p.m. (Wednesday), I got a call from (Hydro One) and we have a tentative online meeting (early next week). That’s as much as we’ve got so far.”

Neighbours on the Line have concerns with residents losing their homesteads, water shed contamination and electric radiation exposure if the project goes through as currently planned.

The Neighbours on the Line alternate route would go from Shuniah to north of Dog Lake, south of Upsala, follow along the Sapawe Road to the southeast of Sapawe and follow an abandoned hydro line into Atikokan.

On March 2, Hydro One director of project delivery, Sonny Karunakaran, said the transmission line will produce many benefits to the region including economic growth, development, job opportunities, electrical reliability, renewable generation and load growth pertaining to the mining industry.

Hydro One’s time frame to complete the development work on the project is tentatively scheduled for the end of 2024.

John Nagy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle-Journal