THUNDER BAY — Hydro One's preferred route for a new high-voltage power line between Thunder Bay, Atikokan and Dryden is meeting opposition from some people in the Thunder Bay area.
"Residents and landowners feel blindsided and misled without proper disclosure," Michelle Hamer said in a news release announcing a meeting this week for concerned property-owners.
Hamer's family, which owns one of the oldest original homesteads in the Kaministiquia area, believes if the Waasigan Transmission Line Project goes through their property, it will cause "severe undue hardship and irreversible damage in all aspects of life," and that "no monetary compensation will be reasonable."
She declined to be interviewed prior to the meeting, which is scheduled for Wednesday evening at the Kam Community Centre.
But in a summary of concerns distributed to news media, Hamer outlines a broad range of issues related to environmental degradation, the potential adverse effects on human health, and the impact on her manufacturing business based on natural plant medicine.
She also alleges that Hydro One's preferred route would violate the constitutional right to enjoyment of one's property.
The new power line will run alongside an existing transmission line through the Kaministiquia area.
The project, which is a 50/50 partnership between Hydro One and eight First Nations including Fort William First Nation, will provide 350 megawatts of additional electricity to the region.
Former Fort William Chief Peter Collins stepped down last year to take on a leadership role with the project on behalf of the First Nations.
Hydro One recently held a series of open houses to discuss the proposed route and other elements of the project.
"We want as much feedback as possible because that gives us the confidence because, in the end, we are going to be a neighbour and we are going to be a member of the community just like any other building or business," vice-president of stakeholder relations Daniel Levitan said.
Levitan referred to the construction jobs and purchase of supplies from local companies that will be required for the project.
Hamer, though, is far from satisfied with the nature of the consultation to date, saying that when the family's concerns were raised with a Hydro official, he advised them to talk to the utility's real estate section.
After TBnewswatch reached out to Hydro One for a response to her concerns, it replied with a statement from Levitan.
The statement said Hydro One is committed to ongoing, meaningful and open engagement with residents and communities.
"Since 2019, Hydro One has regularly engaged with residents to share updates and developments about the project. This includes several rounds of community open houses with the most recent ones held in Thunder Bay, Atikokan and Dryden last week where the preliminary preferred route was announced," the statement reads.
"The preliminary preferred route for the Waasigan Transmission Line was chosen based on feedback from Indigenous communities, insight from impacted residents and communities, and data from completed studies. Now that the preliminary route has been selected, we will be engaging more directly with landowners along the route to learn more about the unique features of their property as we continue to finalize the Waasigan transmission line. We encourage residents to continue sharing their feedback with us.”