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Power line route undetermined
YESTERDAY'S provincial approval of the Northwest Transmission Line occurred even though one portion of its route has yet to be chosen.
At issue is whether one section of the line should go through a portion of Nisga'a treaty lands, which would also affect the boundary of the Nisga'a Memorial Lava Bed Park, or further to the east through lands over which the province has more control.
Discussions are continuing this week between the Nisga'a Lisims Government and BC Hydro as to a resolution of the situation but documents released yesterday as part of the provincial environmental approval reveal the framework for what is going on.
Choosing the Nisga'a route, called the “western route”, is preferable from a design perspective because it is less geographically challenging than the other route, called the “eastern route.”
According to the documents released yesterday, provisions of the Nisga'a treaty do allow for the province to “take up a limited amount of Nisga'a Lands, and a process, including arbitration, leading to the determination of fair and equitable compensation ....”
And the Nisga'a Lisims Government needs to give its approval to any plan to amend the lava bed park boundary.
The documents also indicated that BC Hydro has begun the paperwork required to obtain Nisga'a lands for the western route option.
As well, moves to amend the lava bed park boundary were only in the initial stages.
Because the scope of negotiations between the Nisga'a and BC Hydro over a route choice have yet to conclude and full details are not known, the provincial environmental assessment office says it could not make the “required assessment as it relates to the effects on the social, economic and cultural well-being of the Nisga'a citizens regarding the western route without being able to consider the economic aspects and other components that would be included in any tenure or park boundary agreements ....”
It then recommended “an Environmental Assessment Certificate include the 'western route' only on condition that an agreement on this route alternative is reached between the Nisga'a Lisims Government and BC Hydro or the Province.”
As to requirements for consultation with the Nisga'a Nation, the provincial environmental assessment office felt that all obligations had been fulfilled.
BC Hydro wants to start construction of the line this spring. It still has yet to choose a prime contractor but has established a short list of four groups of companies. They have until tomorrow to submit proposals and BC Hydro wants to make its choice by April.