THE FEDERAL government has approved construction of the Northwest Transmission Line, ending several months of waiting on the part of people and businesses in the northwest.
Approval was granted yesterday by federal officials working with Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Infrastructure Canada, the same agency providing $130 million of the line’s $404 million construction cost.
“… Authorities are of the opinion that the project is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects,” read a brief statement released this afternoon.
The line is to run 344 km north of Terrace to Bob Quinn on Hwy37 North, providing a stable source of power to several mineral properties.
One property, the Red Chris copper deposit owned by Imperial Metals, already has federal and provincial environmental approval and is now gathering together the necessary permits required for construction to start.
Imperial needs to build its own line south to hook up to the Northwest Transmission Line at Bob Quinn and wants to be ready to commence mining as soon as the transmission line is ready.
Terrace mayor Dave Pernarowski today is a “great day for Terrace and the region and the province.”
“This is a much anticipated announcement and now it’s time to build,” he said.
Provincial approval was granted the end of February but BC Hydro, the provincial agency which will build the line, was reluctant to press forward without first having federal approval.
The crown corporation had been expected to name a design/build contractor in April, setting in motion a construction schedule leading toward a finish in late December 2013.
Pernarowski said he expects BC Hydro to now quickly name its contractor.
“I think probably they already have chosen one, but were waiting for the appropriate time,” he said.
Pernarowski, co-chair of the Northwest Power Line Coalition, a collection of local governments and businesses which has been pushing for construction for years, said that while there was never any doubt the federal government would give approval, the line construction plan did need to meet federal environmental requirements.
The Tahltan last month voted to approve of a deal with BC Hydro providing cash, employment opportunities and business opportunities connected to the transmission line’s construction.
The Kitselas east of Terrace have also signed a similar deal.
Also signing a deal for jobs and business opportunities with BC Hydro is the Nisga’a Nation. It has also given approval for a portion of the line to be built through the Nisga’a Lava Bed Memorial Park.
The most immediate visible sign of the pending construction program will be the opening by BC Hydro of a Northwest Transmission Line information office in Terrace.
That’s expected to be located in a professional building on Park Ave. across from George Little Park.