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Hydro One partners with First Nations on transmission line projects

Hydro One's future large-scale transmission line projects will follow a model announced last year for the Waasigan line in Northwestern Ontario.
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TORONTO — Hydro One has launched a 50/50 equity model with First Nations on new large-scale transmission line projects.

Under the plan announced Thursday in Toronto, Hydro One will offer First Nations a 50 per cent stake in all future capital transmission line projects with a value over $100 million.

The announcement follows the signing of an agreement last spring with eight First Nations represented by Gwayakocchigewin Limited Partnership (GLP) for the Waasigan Transmission Line project in Northwestern Ontario.

In total, nine First Nations have an opportunity to invest in 50 per cent of the project, which involves the construction of new high-voltage lines between Thunder Bay, Atikokan and Dryden.

This model will also apply to five transmission lines Hydro One is currently developing in southwestern Ontario.

"For too long, First Nations have borne the impacts of infrastructure development in their traditional territories without seeing the benefits," said Hydro One Chief Human Resources Officer Megan Telford.

"For our collective success we must continue to push existing boundaries. Hydro One is committed to its journey of taking meaningful action to advance reconciliation."

GLP President Tom Johnson said Gwayakocchigewin's partnership with the utility demonstrates the right approach to Indigenous participation.

"In addition to the economic benefits of ownership, our First Nations can work closely with Hydro One to ensure responsible development of this project, including the protection of the land, waters and our traditional way of life."

Chief Whitecloud of Lac des Mille Lacs First Nation called the equity partnership model "a significant milestone in the journey of reconciliation and rebuilding economic prosperity" for her First Nation.

She added that it offers significant benefits in the form of shared decision-making with respect to cultural protocols and traditional lands.

Greg Rickford, Minister of Indigenous Affairs, also weighed in, saying "these relationships built on trust will transform the benefits of infrastructure development for future generations."