Engaging aboriginal communities is fundamental to a respectful and responsible approach to hydropower development.
Colin Craig of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (Brandon Sun, Sept. 12) questions what is achieved by Hydro’s expenditures for this purpose. The answer is better projects to supply Manitoba’s growing demand for electricity — projects with reduced environmental impacts, lower compensation costs through investigation of impacts up front and greater local benefits.
By engaging with local communities, we gain aboriginal traditional knowledge that enhances project planning, monitoring and environmental assessment.
This approach also ‘levels the playing field’ to ensure communities have the resources to effectively represent their interest about projects, impacts and opportunities.
Expenditures to date include costs related to participation in project planning, community meetings, and consultations, environmental and regulatory matters, aboriginal traditional knowledge, land use studies, training, employment and business opportunities, independent legal, professional and technical advice, and negotiation of adverse effects arrangements, including offsetting programs and compensation for unavoidable adverse effects. The costs, while significant in absolute terms, represent less than two per cent of the total project investments.
Over the years, substantial costs — to date almost $1 billion — have been incurred to address the impacts of past development. Through today’s more proactive approach, Hydro is working to reduce adverse impacts of our projects and, as a result, future compensation costs. Getting it right up front will pay dividends in the long run.
Hydro is a leader in engaging aboriginal communities as we develop new sources of non-emitting, renewable energy, ensuring all Manitobans benefit from this province’s hydroelectric resources.
Scott Thomson, CA
President and CEO
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 13, 2013