Lower Churchill explained at open house

Katherine Hudson
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Public welcomed to ask questions, voice concerns at open house in Deer Lake

It was one of a number of stops Nalcor Energy's Lower Churchill project representatives will make in the next few weeks to give the public an opportunity to see the plans.

From 4 until 9 p.m. Wednesday at the Deer Lake Motel, people from the community milled about a boardroom filled with presentations, maps and Nalcor representatives available to explain the Lower Churchill project.

Gilbert Bennett (right), vice-president of Nalcor's Lower Churchill project explains the proposed transmission link at an open house in Deer Lake Wednesday. - Photo by Katherine Hudson/The Western Star

Deer Lake -

It was one of a number of stops Nalcor Energy's Lower Churchill project representatives will make in the next few weeks to give the public an opportunity to see the plans.

From 4 until 9 p.m. Wednesday at the Deer Lake Motel, people from the community milled about a boardroom filled with presentations, maps and Nalcor representatives available to explain the Lower Churchill project.

Minutes after the open house began, about 20 people were already getting acquainted with the material and asking questions.

Dave Bursey, a helicopter pilot in the area, said the information was appealing to him both personally and professionally.

"I've involved in this type of industry for 30 years now. Deer Lake is a fairly strategic location for all this type of work. ... I have a general interest in this stuff. I think it's fascinating. People want to come and have an opportunity to come and look around," he said.

Gilbert Bennett, vice-president of the Lower Churchill project, said there were two objectives of the open house, one being to introduce people in the region to the project.

"Second is to give people an opportunity to identify concerns, questions, areas that they're interested in so that we can continue to use that information and feedback in the environmental assessment process," he said.

The environmental assessment is reviewing and planning process to identify the potential environmental and social effects of the proposed development project. The issues are then considered and incorporated into the planning and decision-making of the project, according to Nalcor.

"In general, we'd like people to understand how the environmental assessment process works, where are the opportunities for future public input and participation in the process," Bennett said.

He said recurring questions orbit topics such as the routing for the transmission lines and the selection corridor. The proposed transmission line is made up of 1,100 kilometres of overhead transmission lines - 400 in Labrador and 700 on the island. There is a two-kilometre-wide transmission study corridor identified where the eventual transmission line route will be 60 metres wide.

"Once they get past that, I've heard a general theme of support and understanding of the need for the project and why we're undertaking the link towards our long-term future," Bennett said.

Bennett said people are interested in the description of the project, the routing of the transmission lines and how it relates to their homes, property or place of business. The proposed study corridor appears to travel over Route 420 to Hampden as it comes down from the Northern Peninsula.

"We want to make sure the people understand why we're undertaking the project, its importance and some of the benefits of the project. We'll talk about employment opportunities, the construction effort, those kinds of things, as well as the long-term benefit of the project in terms of its integration into the power system," Bennett said.

According to Nalcor documents available at the open house, the estimated direct employment with the Lower Churchill project will peak at approximately 1,000 workers with 30 per cent working on the transmission line construction in Labrador, 55 per cent on the island and 15 per cent constructing the Strait of Belle Isle submarine cable crossings.

This is the energy company's first round of open houses corresponding to the Lower Churchill project, and there will be more in the future.

"Once we get into the environmental assessment process, the guidelines that are provided to us by the (provincial and federal) governments will give us pretty clear directions of where we need to have opportunities for consultations, open houses and public meetings. From our perspective, we want to get out early, ahead of those guidelines ... so we get as much information out as early as we can," Bennett said.

The open houses continue in Hawke's Bay Thursday, Flower's Cove Friday and L'Anse au Loup Saturday. Open houses will be in St. John's May 10 and Happy Valley-Goose Bay May 11.

Geographic location: Deer Lake, Labrador, Hawke's Bay L'Anse au Loup St. John's Happy Valley Goose Bay

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Recent comments

  • John Smith
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    Great to see the gov. is still considering the anglo saxon route,I think if we could manage to get this link to the island, and on to the mainland it would be a huge advantage to the province as a whole. Access to reasonable priced hydro would be a great reason for heavy industry to set up here. As for the usual liberal trolls who consider the tely their very own little propaganda machine, well what can you say? There is an election comming up, the people will make a choice to have either Mr. Williams, or Ms. Jones as the leader of the provice, I know who I will be voting for.

  • david
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    Lab 12, the last time I bothered to check Lab was a part of Newf unless you know something different please enlighten me.I C Clearly.....NOT. What is the alternative. I know lets keep Holyrood going burning that good old coal,that will keep us in the backwoods for sure.This is a monumental project with many hurdles still to clear. I would rather have Dan Williams try to get this off the ground than sittin on his arse collecting his big fat salary......oh I forgot he does his work for free.You negative types need to find somthing else to do with yourselves ......I got an idea ...... why don't you guys run for office and then you can make all the decisions.Heaven help us.

  • Lab12
    July 02, 2010 - 13:16

    Prior to Danny's next Billion Dollar Gaffe, he better be sure that the Territory of Labrador approve his plan. I am sure we would be willing to rent the area out to him at a profit. Thinking he will face no resistance from those he has taken so much from is yet again foolish thinking. Maybe we will become part of Quebec just to make things interesting.

  • Polly
    July 02, 2010 - 13:15

    What a novel idea , INPUT from the people of this provinve . As our illustrious leader would say --- MY PROVINCE , MY DOLLAR , MY CHOICE ......

  • I C Clearly
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    The fairy tale continues. There is no route to the U.S. and Ontario markets, and none coming. Are we really going to spend all that money on a dam to service the declining energy needs of this province? We have two less paper mills and no heavy industry. Where's the financing for this project? The land claims agreement? The transmission corridor?
    I'd like to see NALCOR's books - there's no reason why we can't see the expenses associated with building a hydro facility for the province - other than the government may be a little embarassed by how much all this planning is costing us. Where is the transparancy that this government promised?

  • David
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    lab12,
    I am also from Labrador, and your opinion does not provide the consensus from Labradorians.

    Labrador does deserve it fair share of benefits from the Lower Churchill, but this project will only be possible thru the concerted afforts of the entire province. Labrador will provide the raw materials (i.e. the river), but the whole province is needed to provide the financing, skills and manpower needed to complete this project. Don't forget that.

    Finally, your threats to secede and join Quebec are foolish. Do you really think Quebec would be so wonderful to Labrador?

    • Duane Mitchell
      December 01, 2010 - 11:34

      We certainly would be "treated" better by Quebec, anything is better than being a part of Newfoundland, seperation from them would be the best thing for Labradorians, how many people do you see working on Hibernia for example who are Labradorians??? Do we "Labrador" benefit from Hibernia? Not likely! Another Joey Smallwood deal as far as I am concerned !!!!!

  • John Smith
    July 01, 2010 - 20:05

    Great to see the gov. is still considering the anglo saxon route,I think if we could manage to get this link to the island, and on to the mainland it would be a huge advantage to the province as a whole. Access to reasonable priced hydro would be a great reason for heavy industry to set up here. As for the usual liberal trolls who consider the tely their very own little propaganda machine, well what can you say? There is an election comming up, the people will make a choice to have either Mr. Williams, or Ms. Jones as the leader of the provice, I know who I will be voting for.

  • david
    July 01, 2010 - 20:01

    Lab 12, the last time I bothered to check Lab was a part of Newf unless you know something different please enlighten me.I C Clearly.....NOT. What is the alternative. I know lets keep Holyrood going burning that good old coal,that will keep us in the backwoods for sure.This is a monumental project with many hurdles still to clear. I would rather have Dan Williams try to get this off the ground than sittin on his arse collecting his big fat salary......oh I forgot he does his work for free.You negative types need to find somthing else to do with yourselves ......I got an idea ...... why don't you guys run for office and then you can make all the decisions.Heaven help us.

  • Lab12
    July 01, 2010 - 19:55

    Prior to Danny's next Billion Dollar Gaffe, he better be sure that the Territory of Labrador approve his plan. I am sure we would be willing to rent the area out to him at a profit. Thinking he will face no resistance from those he has taken so much from is yet again foolish thinking. Maybe we will become part of Quebec just to make things interesting.

  • Polly
    July 01, 2010 - 19:54

    What a novel idea , INPUT from the people of this provinve . As our illustrious leader would say --- MY PROVINCE , MY DOLLAR , MY CHOICE ......

  • I C Clearly
    July 01, 2010 - 19:52

    The fairy tale continues. There is no route to the U.S. and Ontario markets, and none coming. Are we really going to spend all that money on a dam to service the declining energy needs of this province? We have two less paper mills and no heavy industry. Where's the financing for this project? The land claims agreement? The transmission corridor?
    I'd like to see NALCOR's books - there's no reason why we can't see the expenses associated with building a hydro facility for the province - other than the government may be a little embarassed by how much all this planning is costing us. Where is the transparancy that this government promised?

  • David
    July 01, 2010 - 19:45

    lab12,
    I am also from Labrador, and your opinion does not provide the consensus from Labradorians.

    Labrador does deserve it fair share of benefits from the Lower Churchill, but this project will only be possible thru the concerted afforts of the entire province. Labrador will provide the raw materials (i.e. the river), but the whole province is needed to provide the financing, skills and manpower needed to complete this project. Don't forget that.

    Finally, your threats to secede and join Quebec are foolish. Do you really think Quebec would be so wonderful to Labrador?