An environmental hearing into Manitoba Hydro's new Bipole III transmission line resumes Monday, but a northern Manitoba outfitter wonders if it's too late to save his 14-year-old business.
The route for the new line, which will deliver more power to southern Manitoba, cuts through the hunting area the province allocated to Cory Grant.
Grant is one of two outfitters who want to be compensated by Hydro for the potential loss of business -- just as Hydro is compensating trappers who have registered trap lines in the path of the new line. Hydro has already agreed to pay trappers up to five years for lost revenue.
"Am I going to be taking my clients through a construction zone?" Grant said. "My clients pay for the remoteness of the area. They want to get away from people. They won't come. What happens to my business because of the line?"
Grant, whose All Terrain Bear Hunts in Thompson employs six people during the bear-hunting season, said he also fears the new line will open up the wilderness area to more people, because Hydro will have to build access roads for its machinery to clear the route and erect transmission towers.
Manitoba Hydro senior environmental assessment officer Patrick McGarry said in a Feb. 21 letter that, unlike affected trappers, Grant will have to prove loss of income and submit a claim to Manitoba Hydro's legal department.
"To substantiate a claim, past and present accounting and business records would be required to determine if a loss has arisen directly as a result of the Bipole III project," McGarry said.
Grant called that unfair: "How am I going to prove that? Am I going to get the bears to write letters saying they're not coming."
Manitoba Lodge and Outfitters Association (MLOA) executive director Paul Turenne said he believes Hydro is not recognizing the impact of the $3.82-billion transmission line on the outfitting business, which attracts mostly American clients.
"You might as well take them to hunt at a dump. There are bears at a dump, too," Turenne said. "All we're asking for is the same thing as the trappers."
The amount of compensation might total $20,000 over three years, he said.
The MLOA will be one of several presenters at the Clean Environment Commission hearing. CEC chairman Terry Sargeant said the commission's findings on Bipole III should be presented to the government earlier than the 90-day deadline.
The CEC will hold hearings this fall into the $6.22-billion Keeyask generating station.