UPWARDS OF 40 people will be working into late fall clearing a 41 kilometre long swath, part of the Northwest Transmission Line project.
The section to be cleared runs north of Meziadin past the Bell Irving area up Hwy 37 North. The work is tied to a series of impact benefits agreements signed by BC Hydro with First Nations and the Nisga’a Nation.
The agreement for this section was signed by BC Hydro with one of the First Nations, the Skii km Lax Ha.
The agreements acknowledge the line’s crossing of First Nations traditional territory and of Nisga’a Lisims Government lands, by providing money, jobs and business opportunities.
The Skii km Lax Ha, in turn, have signed a deal with the Gitxsan Development Corporation to take care of the clearing and associated works.
Speaking last week, development corporation president Rick Connors estimated that out of the 40 jobs to be created, as many as 25 Gitxsan people will be hired to work on the clearing itself, on safety monitoring, on environmental monitoring and on catering.
Also on the to-do-list is establishing a camp for the workers who will be clearing the route.
“It’s quite an intricate contract,” said Connors of the work involved.
“There’s not only the width of the route, there’s specs about the ground clearing. One portion looks like a golf course.”
The project planning calls for the work to be done by late fall.
“Well, I hope to be done before the snow flies,” said Connors. “That’s our timeline.”
Clearing of other sections of the transmission line route has either already taken place or is now underway.
The Northwest Transmission Line, which will cost $561 million, will run 344 kilometres, from the Skeena Substation south of Terrace up to Bob Quinn on Hwy 37 North.
Earlier this year, the Kitselas First Nation cleared 7 kilometres from the Skeena Substation north to the Skeena River. As well, the Tahltan Nation began clearing a section running south of Bob Quinn.
The route clearing work in the Kitsumkalum traditional territory is now underway.
The number of companies involved in the Skii km Lax Ha section alone highlight the complexities of industrial work.
The Gitxsan Development Corporation, which is overseeing the clearing work for the Skii km Lax Ha, has hired a Prince George company called Blackwater Construction which will do the labour.
In addition, Brinkman Forest Ltd. has been hired as the project manager.
Connors said the clearing work is the first step towards providing economic opportunities from the transmission line for Gitxsan people on their own territory.
That goal fits with the Gitxsan Development Corporation’s mandate given by its owners, the Gitxsan hereditary chiefs, said Connors.