Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/7/2011 (2164 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Bill Blaikie, minister of Conservation, writes in "Tories Are Biggest Threat To UNESCO Bid, (Brandon Sun, July 15), about the Bipole III project, Manitoba's largest ever infrastructure project.
Several years ago, the present government;
* 1. -- Instructed Hydro to abandon their plan to build Bipole III down the east side of Lake Winnipeg,
* 2. -- Instructed Hydro to consider only far western route options, and
* 3. -- Arranged with some environmental groups to pursue some kind of initiative to get a UNESCO heritage site designation for a large tract of remote northeastern Manitoba.
As we are constantly reminded by various members of the NDP caucus, and now Blaikie, they like the idea of a successful UNESCO bid. They like it so much, in fact, that it seems to blur their vision for all other implications of this megaproject. For example:
* It is a fact that the far western route that they have decided upon is 481 km longer than the original eastern route.
It is a fact that 481 km is a long distance -- a distance somewhat greater than driving between Brandon and Moose Jaw, Sask. Building an extra 481 km of transmission line obviously comes at not only a great financial cost but also a significant cost to the environment.
Green this is not.
* It is a fact that the thousand or so extra towers required would be 148 feet high, the approximate height of 18-storey buildings. It is a fact that infrastructure of this magnitude is obtrusive, and its obtrusiveness is proportional to the amount of human and economic activity where it is placed. The far western route is far more obtrusive.
* It is a fact that the western route affects infinitely more agricultural land that the eastern route, recommended by Hydro. In fact, large parts of it would run through some of the most fertile soils in Manitoba and in one of the most favourable agro- climatic regions of western Canada. Green this is not. Let's have some respect for our non-renewable resources, including farm land, the resource that built this province.
* It is a fact that there will be much greater power line losses associated with this route which is 481 km longer. That is clean energy which would be lost -- and millions of dollars worth of it each year. That is the same clean energy that Hydro has invested so heavily in producing from wind power in places like St. Leon. Green this is not.
* It is a fact that similar acres of boreal forest will be lost in building of Bipole III, regardless of the route. It is a fact that boreal forest is equally "precious," whether in is in one place in Manitoba or another. It has the same carbon sink effect.
* It is a fact that, all things equal, the longer a transmission line, the less safe and less stable it is. The western route is 53 per cent longer than the eastern route.
* Finally it is a fact that this far western route, if implemented, will cost the taxpayers a lot more money. Several groups, who I am inclined to believe, think it will be $1 billion extra, a lot of money for a small, relatively poor, highly taxed province. One billion dollars is, by the way, more than the cost of the Winnipeg floodway, including its recent $650 million expansion. And for what?
We need to abandon the foolish far-western route, route, save $1 billion and give the environment a break.
So to Blaikie, the premier and also Mr. David Suzuki (a willing pawn), I would say "get your priorities straight, there are more important things than the UNESCO bid."