Provincial environmental regulators will oversee a final review this fall on a proposed critical power line project between Thunder Bay, Atikokan and Dryden.
In a Nov. 17 news release, Hydro One and its nine First Nations development partners have submitted the final environmental assessment report on the proposed Waasigan Transmission Line project to the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks for review.
The complete document is available for further public review and comment from Nov. 17 and Jan.19, 2024.
More than four years in the planning, the 350-kilometre long line is designed to meet the forecasted electricity needs of northwestern Ontario’s booming mining sector.
But the $1.2-billion project has been controversial for residents with homes in the path of the proposed power line corridor.
The provincial utility said in the release that the final report incorporates all the collected feedback rom Indigenous communities, government agencies, local organizations, interest groups and residents.
The report goes into detail on the level of public engagement on the route selection process, identifies potential impacts on the socio-economic front, and identifies measures that will be taken to mitigate any negative effects of the power line project.
Based on public feedback, Hydro One said it’s committed to working with residents who want to stay in their homes. The agency will avoid applying herbicides to manage vegetation during construction and future maintenance along the power line corridor.
An environmental protection plan and a traditional land and resource use management plan will be drawn up along with implementing an ongoing Indigenous monitoring program.
In a statement, Sonny Karunakaran, Hydro One’s vice president of strategic projects and partnerships, said the utility has passed another milestone toward delivering this power project that will bring widespread economic benefits and generate jobs across the region.
"Over the course of several years, Hydro One has heard and responded to feedback from members of the community about the project, ensuring that local community input is considered in the design, planning and development of the project in a meaningful way as we prepare for construction."
Atikokan Mayor Rob Ferguson credited Hydro One for its “willingness to work closely with communities throughout this process by actively listening to our comments and providing mitigation measures when possible.”
When electrified, Waasigan will pump an additional 350 megawatts into the region, two times more than what it takes to power the City of Thunder Bay.
The first phase is a proposed new double-circuit 230 kilovolt transmission line from Lakehead Transformer Station, north of Thunder Bay, in the Municipality of Shuniah to the Mackenzie Transformer Station in the Town of Atikokan. The line is scheduled to be service by the end of 2025.
The second phase is a single-circuit 230 kilovolt transmission line from Atikokan to a transformer station in Dryden. That line is scheduled to be in service by the end of 2027.
The selected contractor is Valard Construction LP, the same company involved in the construction of the East-West Tie line upgrade along the north shore of Lake Superior.