BC Hydro, Nisga’a to decide power line route

  • Feb. 27, 2011 11:00 a.m.

A SENIOR BC Hydro official hopes a deal can be done soon with the Nisga’a Lisims Government to finalize a section of the Northwest Transmission Line route.The crown corporation wants what it terms the “western route,” which would go through Nisga’a core lands and skirt the boundary of the Nisga’a Memorial Lava Bed Park.The alternative is the “eastern route” which goes over Crown land and would not be as complicated to arrange.Provincial environmental approval granted last week allowed for either route to be used and Feb. 25 was the deadline for short-listed companies to submit final construction bids.The winning bidder will be chosen in April.Although BC Hydro’s Bruce Barrett said it’s not unusual to get this far without a power line route being fully determined, he’d prefer a deal is done sooner rather than later.“We need to have it settled early this spring,” said Barrett, in order to follow a desired construction time line.He said the eastern route is a little more expensive than the western one.“We do prefer the western route from the constructability and maintainability point of view,” Barrett added.Under terms of the Nisga’a treaty that provided core lands to the Nisga’a, lands can be taken away in return for compensation.BC Hydro has started the procedure necessary to take the lands but has stopped that course of action pending the outcome of negotiations.In any event, the provincial environmental certificate granted last week allows BC Hydro to include the western route only if it can reach a deal with the Nisga’a.At the same time, the Nisga’a need to give their approval to any change in the boundaries of the lava bed provincial park.Barrett said the negotiations with the Nisga’a were ongoing.“I just know the negotiations we’ve had are professional and respectful on both sides,” he said.Barrett said other talks aimed at striking economic deals with other First Nations affected by the transmission line route were also going well.The provincial environmental office, which issued environmental approval for the line last week, said it felt that all obligations toward the Nisga’a and to First Nations groups had been fulfilled.

(Editor’s note. This story was posted prior to “Nisga’a ink transmission line deal” which was posted March 1, 2011.)

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