There is no question a flood mitigation plan is needed for the Assiniboine River and a major component within that plan needs to be a permanent outlet on Lake Manitoba. The question rather is how long it will take to build a permanent outlet.
The NDP has stated the project would take at least seven years — we say this can be done sooner if there is a political will to get the job done.
Take for example the much more complex and costly Bipole III hydro project. This proposed timeline for Bipole III is six years — one year less than the NDP says it will take to build an outlet on Lake Manitoba, yet the project is far more complex.
Bipole III is at least 60 times longer than the outlet, affects 15 times as many homeowners and 10 times more First Nations, not to mention it costs 10 times more — yes, $300 million to build a permanent outlet on Lake Manitoba (option D) versus a whopping $3.2 billion for Bipole III.
One might also question the benefits of Bipole III, which aren’t really quite that clear. Whereas with the outlet, the benefits are pretty straightforward — flood protection for homeowners, farmland, business owners and communities along the lake’s shores.
A permanent outlet on Lake Manitoba needs to be a priority project on the government to-do list. Where there is a political will there is a way to get the job done in a timely manner.
Progressive Conservative Hydro critic
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 27, 2014