BC Hydro President and CEO Dave Cobb

BC Hydro President and CEO Dave Cobb

Massive hydro line project gains backing of key aboriginal opponents

Deal puts huge Merritt-to-Coquitlam transmission project closer to launch

  • Aug. 30, 2011 11:00 a.m.

BC Hydro has inked what it’s calling a landmark deal with three First Nations groups that had fought plans to build a massive power transmission line between Merritt and Coquitlam.

But the project isn’t out of the woods yet.

Dubbed the Interior to Lower Mainland (ILM) line, the 255-km connection would be Hydro’s biggest expansion project in 30 years.

The $725-million expansion, bringing power from the Interior to Metro Vancouver via the Meridian Substation on Coquitlam’s Westwood Plateau, had been held in legal limbo by more than a dozen First Nations groups along the proposed project route.

The B.C. Utilities Commission ruled in February Hydro had not adequately consulted with the groups about the project’s impacts on First Nations lands and sent both sides back into negotiations.

On Aug. 26, BC Hydro announced three of those groups — the Upper Nicola Band, the Okanagan Nation Alliance and the Nlaka’pamux Nation Tribal Council — had signed an agreement on the project.

Greg Reimer, BC Hydro’s executive VP of transmission and distribution, told Black Press that while details of that agreement are confidential, they do include direct financial benefits to the First Nations groups.

“The agreement has a number of components: There is an amount of financial compensation [and] there are direct-award contracts and cooperation on future energy development opportunities,” Reimer said.

He added that while Hydro is still in talks with several other First Nations groups along the proposed Merritt-Coquitlam line, the three groups now onboard with the project were previously “some of the most active” in their opposition to the project.

“We have been in consultation with these folks for several years,”  Reimer said. “They certainly had been active in terms of discussions with us as well as exercising their legal remedies where they haven’t supported what we’ve been doing.”

Most of that resistance was in securing recognition for First Nations land title rights — something band leaders said had been ignored in the past.

If negotiations are settled with the remaining First Nations soon, Hydro hopes to start work on the line and towers later this fall with an anticipated completion date of fall 2014, Reimer said.

The Interior to Lower Mainland project is designed to feed a projected 40-per-cent increase in energy demand in the province over the next 20 years, with much of that demand coming from the Lower Mainland.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Okanagan Nation Alliance and president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said reaching the agreement after four years of negotiations with Hydro was a testament to “the power of unity.”

“As a result, BC Hydro has committed to a new era of reconciliation, trust and meaningful strategic engagement for all their activities on our territories,” Phillip added.

Reimer estimates that up to 543 person-years of employment would be created through the construction of the transmission project, but couldn’t say how many jobs that might translate to locally in Coquitlam or at any particular spot along the line.

Much of the high-voltage line will follow existing hydro corridors, while 74 kilometres will require new hydro rights-of-way and approximately 60 kilometres of the line will require widening of existing corridors.

Surrey North Delta Leader

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A tow truck works to pull a dump truck from a ditch at 176 Street and 40 Avenue, following a two-vehicle incident Tuesday (Jan. 19) afternoon. (Aaron Hinks photo)
PHOTOS: Dump truck, car collide in South Surrey

Intersection – 176 Street and 40 Avenue – was site of 2019 fatal collision

An electric vehicle charging station in front of Hope’s municipal hall, district hall. (Photo: Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
40 electric vehicle charging stations planned for Surrey

Funding coming from all three levels of government

Police on the scene of a homicide in South Surrey’s Morgan Heights neighbourhood earlier this month. (Tracy Holmes photo)
Crime Stoppers received more than 500 tips related to gang activity in 2020: report

Metro Vancouver organization “urging local residents to keep providing anonymous tips”

Family and friends of Hudson Brooks marched as part of a call for answers from an IIO investigation into his 2015 death. (Black Press Media files)
Inquest to look into RCMP shooting death of Hudson Brooks

Charges agains the RCMP officer who shot Brooks were stayed in 2019

Syringe is prepared with one of B.C.’s first vials of Pfizer vaccine to prevent COVID-19, Victoria, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 caseload stays steady with 465 more Tuesday

No new outbreaks in health care facilities, 12 more deaths

New Westminster TV production designer, Rick Whitfield, has designed an office in a box for British Columbians in need of a private workspace. (BC Box Office photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. man designs ‘box office’ solution for those working from home

‘A professionally designed workspace on your property, away from the distractions of home’

Chilliwack ER doctor Marc Greidanus is featured in a video, published Jan. 18, 2021, where he demonstrates and describes effectiveness of various styles of masks. (Youtube)
VIDEO: Emergency room doctor runs through pros and cons of various masks

‘We’ve been asked to wear a mask and it’s not that hard,’ Greidanus says.

(Pixabay photo)
VIDEO: Tip to Metro Vancouver transit police helps woman 4,000 km away in Ohio

Sgt. Clint Hampton says transit police were alerted to a YouTube video of the woman in mental distress

A woman types on her laptop in Miami in a Monday, Dec. 12, 2016, photo illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Wilfredo Lee
British Columbia government lax on cybersecurity practices, auditor reports

The audit did not highlight a specific threat, but it found breaches in cybersecurity are increasing globally

A child joins the Uke ‘n Play kickoff event at the Chilliwack Library on Oct. 1, 2016. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Events return, in virtual form, at Fraser Valley Regional Library

People can take part in ukulele jam, bullet journaling, reading groups and more

Cranbrook Food Bank coordinator Deanna Kemperman, Potluck Cafe Society executive director Naved Noorani and Sunshine Coast Community Services Society executive director Catherine Leach join B.C.’s new Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne on a video call about B.C. gaming grants, Jan. 19, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. gaming grants reorganized for COVID-19 priorities

Minister highlights community kitchens, food banks

(Pixabay photo)
‘Cocaine bananas’ arrive at Kelowna grocery stores after mix up from Colombia: RCMP

Kelowna RCMP recently concluded an international drug investigation after finding cocaine in local grocers’ banana shipments in 2019

People wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 walk past a window display at a store in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, December 13, 2020. The association representing businesses across Metro Vancouver says the costs of COVID-19 continue to mount for its members.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Greater Vancouver business organization says members face uncertain outlook in 2021

Many Greater Vancouver businesses are barely treading water as they enter 2021

Most Read