Boreal Forest Network Letter to Hugh McFadyen

Posted on February 10th, 2011

Manitoba Hydro Bipole 3 ChoiceFebruary 10, 2011

To: Mr. Hugh McFadyen,
Leader of the Official Opposition
Room 172 Legislative Building
450 Broadway Avenue
Winnipeg, MB. R3C 0V8

From: Susanne McCrea,
2h-91 Albert Street
Winnipeg, MB. R3B1G5
Executive Director
Boreal Forest Network

Dear Mr. McFadyen,

The Boreal Forest Network (BFN), a member organization of the international Taiga Rescue Network, has been actively involved, since the late 1980’s, in building partnerships with First Nations communities on the East side of Lake Winnipeg, with national and international non-governmental organizations and with local, national and international media outlets to highlight the need to promote and preserve one of the last remaining large intact boreal forest in the world, an area of significant outstanding, universal, cultural and natural values.

Our involvement on the East side of Lake Winnipeg, and the diverse partnerships that we have developed on this issue over these many years, has lead to a much more heightened global awareness of this unique region of Manitoba, which has ultimately lead to a vast area in this region of Manitoba being seriously considered as an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Like so many others, BFN cannot think of a more positive and enduring way to have Manitoba recognized and promoted on the world stage.

It comes as a surprise to our organization that as the Leader of the Official Opposition you and your Party would take a public position that would undermine Manitoba’s ability to take the world stage as a province that values its’ unique cultural and natural heritage and as a place that would be recognized globally for sharing this unique heritage with the rest of the world.

BFN is most concerned with your recent public statement that if elected to govern, after October 2011, you and your Party would immediately reverse, upon taking office, the Bipole III decision and proceed with an East Side of Lake Winnipeg routing option for this HVDC transmission line.

In our opinion, this hasty decision by your Party, should it come to fruition, would not only have lasting social and economic impacts for East side First Nation communities, it would also seriously undermine efforts made by the current government of Manitoba to support the bid to obtain UNESCO World Heritage site designation for this valuable natural region of Manitoba.

Therefore we are writing to you to seek some further clarification from you on this matter.

First, we would like to be informed prior to the October election, that should your party get a mandate to govern in October 2011, what additional costs would Manitoba have to assume with a decision to construct Bipole III on the East side of Lake Winnipeg such as;

What will be the associated cost of undertaking another environmental and regulatory approvals process with an East side of Lake Winnipeg route decision?

What will be the associated cost of new routing studies that will be required to determine final routing of Bipole III down the East side of Lake Winnipeg?

What will be the associated costs for a new public consultation process and separate Section 35 consultation process with the effected First Nations on the East side of Lake Winnipeg?

What might be the associated cost of various benefit agreements that would be required with the effected First Nation communities, on the East side of Lake Winnipeg, in order to proceed with the construction of Bipole III down the East side of Lake Winnipeg?

Will new converter stations also be required? At what cost?

Finally, what would be the anticipated in service date for completion of Bipole III down the East side of Lake Winnipeg?

BFN would very much appreciate answers to these outstanding questions, prior to October 2011, so that we may better prepare our next four-year work plan.

BFN is now in the process of engaging our network of global partners to secure their expertise in assessing all of the anticipated impacts, should there be a change in policy direction, with respect to the East side of Lake Winnipeg come October 2011. Our organization will determine our activities over the next four years accordingly.

BFN strongly believes that the current government of Manitoba is taking a very prudent and balanced approach with respect to future hydro transmission development and any course correction that deviates from this balanced approach, in October 2011, will of course impact our organizations’ future strategic planning process.

In closing, I would like to add that we have worked very cooperatively and positively with the current government of Manitoba to support its initiatives on the East side of Lake Winnipeg, including providing our full support for the proposed UNESCO World Heritage site.

BFN believes that the approach taken so far has been relatively conflict free given the number of competing interests surrounding this issue and we anticipate that this approach will continue should you and your Party receive a mandate to govern, in October 2011.

We strongly believe that the efforts to date, with respect to initiatives now underway on the East side of Lake Winnipeg, will have lasting benefits to East side First Nations communities and will leave Manitoba with a lasting positive global image and legacy for future generations to appreciate.

Our work over many years to support the vision that a number of East Side First Nation communities have for their traditional lands will be ongoing, as we believe it is a vision worthy of our continued support. We are prepared to engage all of our organizational resources, if necessary, to protect this vision over the coming years.

Sincerely,

Susanne McCrea
Executive Director
Boreal Forest Network

(This letter was hand-delivered to Hugh McFadyen’s desk on February 10,2011)

Support the Manitoba government’s efforts to create a World Heritage Site in the Heart of the Boreal – Say no to an industrial transmission line.