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MMF appealing environmental licence for Bipole III

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Manitoba Métis Federation president David Chartrand will file an appeal today regarding the environmental licence for the Bipole III hydro transmission line.

The proposed Bipole III would be a 1,300-kilometre transmission line that would begin in northern Manitoba near Gillam and extend to Winnipeg.

Chartrand stated in a press release today that MMF is appealing the recently issued environmental licence for Bipole III because it does not address impacts or concerns that Manitoba Métis community has in the region.

The appeal will be submitted to Gord Mackintosh, the provincial minister of conservation and water stewardship.

"The project will have a significant impact on Métis in the northern and southern Manitoba as well as add a new and significant disturbance throughout the western regions of the province, an area already under significant environmental stress," Chartrand said in the statement. "In particular, this region is extensively relied upon by the Manitoba Métis Community for cultural and traditional resource purposes."

When the licence was granted on Aug. 14, Mackintosh said in a statement that licence was one of the strictest in the country and included 68 conditions such as extensive wildlife monitoring and preservation of as much wetland, forest and farm land as possible.

Manitoba Hydro must ensure species such as caribou, moose and white-tailed deer are protected and must also consult with farmers before towers are placed to minimize the effects on agriculture. Herbicides are only to be used as a last resort during construction

"The conditions are clear -- any actions that would compromise Manitoba's environment must be prevented or mitigated," Mackintosh said in the statement last month.

The provincial government's release said that "Manitoba Hydro will be required to invest in traditional knowledge programs, which could include programs that promote trapping and harvesting in affected aboriginal communities."

The MMF believes more needs to be done.

Chartrand said the MMF appeal is supported by recent information from the Clean Environment Commission which noted Manitoba Hydro had "undertaken ineffective engagement with Aboriginal communities in general and the Métis community specifically in relation to Biple III.

Under the Environment Act, filing an appeal with the provincial minister is the first stage in an appeal of a licence. If their appeal of the licence is not successful at the provincial government level, the MMF said it would challenge the licence in the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench, if necessary.

The purpose of Bipole III is, according to Manitoba Hydro, to make transmissions more reliable and to export more surplus power to the United States. The Bipole III line is expected to cost about $3.3 billion.

-- with files from The Canadian Press

 

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