PROVINCIAL MINES minister Randy Hawes can’t see any reason why federal approval for the Northwest Transmission Line won’t come quickly now that it has received an environmental thumbs up from his government.
“I really can’t see any deal breaker in this,” said Hawes this morning. “And I can’t see any benefit in a delay. It would be detrimental to this area.”
Under provincial review requirements, the province must respond within 45 days to a request for an environmental certificate.
Yesterday’s approval from the province was made with six days left to go in that 45-day window.
There’s no time limit for a federal response but federal officials have earlier said they’d make their best efforts to issue their decision within the provincial timeline.
Hawes noted that the federal government signed over the physical work of assessing the environmental and socio-economic impacts of the $404 million line to the province and that the result provided the assurance for the province to provide environmental approval.
“I’m sure we’ll be talking to them to act in a prudent way and very quickly,” said Hawes of approaches being made to the federal government.
He predicted that provincial environment minister Murray Coell would be contacting Peter Kent, his federal counterpart.
Hawes has joined in with other elected officials and mining industry officials in saying the line, which will deliver power up Hwy37 North, will bring in badly needed jobs and investment to the region.
“This is just the start. It’s a game changer,” said Hawes.
He said the line’s announcement now clearly paves the way for Imperial Metals to move forward on its plan to build a power line from its Red Chris copper property to hook up to the Northwest Transmission Line.
“It’s really good news for that development,” said Hawes.
Through direct agreements or indirect activity, Hawes said First Nations communities stand to benefit greatly from the transmission line and future projects.
“There will be more jobs than aboriginal people to fill those jobs,” he said.
Hawes added that the economic development potential could mean that native people who have had to leave their homes to find work will now be able to return.