Residents upset about power line

THUNDER BAY, ONT. — The newly-formed Neighbours on the Line group and residents have been shocked by the news Hydro One is planning to run their Waasigan Transmission Line project right through their houses and properties.

At a hastily put-together meeting on Wednesday at the Kaministiquia Community Centre, about 30 property owners listened to Neighbours on the Line organizer Michelle Rosetta Hamer spell out the problems facing the residents near and in the path of the power line.

“I’m really upset to be having this conversation right now, I find it quite emotional,” said Rosetta Hamer at Wednesday’s meeting. “. . . I do want everyone to know that this is not hopeless. That we do have the ability to create solutions to bring to the table . . . I’m so grateful that everybody came out because it shows that we do care about each other and we do care about our elders, we do care if there’s four, five, six houses that are taken out, it’s wrong. There are friends we play cards with, there are friends we visit with we know and we need to be able to stand up for one another and say it’s not OK.”

The new power line — which will run parallel with the existing power line — will be installed from the Municipality of Shuniah to Dryden.

Rosetta Hamer’s group is made up mostly of a 20-kilometre area in Kaministiquia, but is receiving input from outside that community now that they will be affected by the route.

The Neighbours group who spoke, which included former lawyer David Eyrou and Kaministiquia community members Jim Hyder and Ian Pizey, contends that residents and properties within a kilometre of the power line will be impacted with possible water table contamination, electric radiation exposure and the loss of some homes.

Pizey, who found out about the power line plans last week, indicated the proposed route would cut through his home, barn and pool.

Rosetta Hamer pointed out that in 2005, hydro companies in the province were not allowed to upgrade a current corridor or add to that corridor unless an environmental health assessment was done.

Also, Rosetta Hamer asked members of the audience who would be directly impacted, who would be within a kilometre of being impacted, who was contacted personally by Hydro One, who was not approached by Hydro One, who received a leaflet from Hydro One and who received an Acquisition Principles compensation package from the electric company.

“There’s a little clause (in the package) that basically says, ‘If you don’t work with us, we’re going to have a long, lengthy litigation,” claimed Rosetta Hamer, whose parents own a home within the proposed route.

Hydro One held community open houses Jan. 16-18 in Thunder Bay, Atikokan and Dryden regarding their preliminary preferred route and say the new line will add 350 megawatts of electricity to the region.

Phone calls and an email to Hydro One project manager Bruce Hopper were not responded to by press time.

For their part, the Neighbours group held another meeting on Thursday to form a committee and how to approach Hydro One with their concerns, which initially included grievance submissions from property owners along the route.

Those submissions can currently be dropped off at the Kaministiquia Community Centre Canada Post office.

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