Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 21/6/2011 (2199 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Much has been said about our "pristine" boreal forest on the east-side of the province that must be protected and preserved in order to be declared a designated United Nations world heritage site.
The opponents of Bipole III being routed through this area claim it will adversely affect that designation, even though the line corridor will be almost invisible by satellite imagery, confirming the minuscule area utilized, and with only part of it actually being forested.
Little has been said about the area's residents, who have lived an essentially land-locked existence forever, with most of their living needs now being transported in either by air or freight trucks in winter (unreliable at best) at a very high cost.
The entire area has abundant resources to exploit, some in the aesthetic sense (eco-tourism in season -- short-lived), great fishing and hunting (again, in season only), and others more concrete -- abundant mineral deposits yet undiscovered or undeveloped and forests that are capable of harvest and continual renewal.
Employment on these northern reserves is very low, much of it in season for the above-mentioned resource usages, except for the few businesses that provide year-round services, and those that are fortunate enough to have government or band administration jobs and positions.
Some forest harvesting occurs, but with the recent closure of the Pine Falls newsprint mill, much of that has disappeared. Infrastructure is very limited, and the recently high-profile poor potable water issue for many reserves mirrors a Third World comparison.
Some environmentalists would prefer to have much of this area locked away, untouched and preserved in its so-called pristine state, while forgetting that they would be condemning the residents to the same fate, and their existence currently is anything but pristine.
Bipole III, if it is eventually routed east-side, would provide immediate employment and training for many residents in trades-related jobs, and Hydro's Community Development Initiative (CDI), for those communities in proximity to the line, would assist them financially in local ventures of their choosing.
The Bipole III North/South DC line's corridor would be able to accommodate AC lines from the nearest existing Hydro AC systems, to provide reliable, permanent, clean power to all our northern neighbours at much lower cost than the current diesel-electric generating systems.
This newly available increased power source could enable many new projects to improve local infrastructure, or attract new businesses that would provide much needed employment.
Through negotiations with Hydro, northern bands could possibly obtain a special deal for this power in return for allowing the corridor to cross traditional lands. At some point in the future, our eastern part of the province will have to be "connected" with power and access -- why not now?
With the planned all-weather road that will eventually link many of these northern communities to each other and the outside, their isolation will end, and people can enter the mainstream of our province more easily if they so wish.
Access, power, and resources (both natural and human) have the potential to provide the same standard of living to our northeastern fellow citizens that we all enjoy in the south.
When our neighbours join the mainstream of the province they will be accorded the considerations they deserve.
Unfortunately there are those who seem to believe those considerations only apply to wildlife and trees. Bipole III on the east side can be the catalyst to begin many worthwhile improvements for northeastern residents.
It will further ensure that all Manitobans are not saddled by a politically motivated decision to pursue a much more costly, less-reliable and environmentally unsound system on the west side.
The estimated extra costs of almost $1 billion to satisfy nebulous environmental concerns is, in this day and age of fiscal uncertainty, pure folly.
Further, by ignoring the east side line's benefits to the residents, this monumental error may well condemn them to perpetual poverty, and all the attendant social ills we see occurring today.
Laird Crawford is associated with the Bipole III Coalition.