Man. PCs mum about plans for Bipole project if elected

For years, Manitoba’s Progressive Conservatives have opposed Bipole III, a controversial hydro transmission line that will run from northern dams to Winnipeg.

But Manitobans, who will vote in a provincial election April 19, are still waiting to hear what the Tories would do with Bipole III, if elected.

“We will be putting out something (a policy) … but it hasn’t come out yet,” said Blaine Pedersen, a Tory MLA for Midland in south-central Manitoba.

Many Manitobans expect the Tories to cancel or pause construction of the $4.6 billion transmission line. The project has been contentious since 2010, when Manitoba Hydro, the provincial utility, released its route.

The project is slated to run from northern hydroelectric dams to the Saskatchewan border and then west of Lake Manitoba before cutting across prime agricultural land in southern Manitoba.

Landowners, farmers, engineers and others have said the route is too long and too expensive. Many believe the line should run east of Lake Winnipeg, which would be shorter and cheaper to construct.

The Bipole III route will cut across the land of Karen Friesen, president of the Bipole III Coalition, which is a group of engineers and landowners who oppose the line and Manitoba Hydro’s plan to invest tens of billions in new dams and transmission capacity.

Friesen, who lives near Niverville, is hoping the Tories put a halt to Bipole III and launch an independent inquiry into Manitoba Hydro’s capital development plan.

Other landowners have also been very vocal in their criticism of the NDP government and how it has managed the project. In December of 2014, Manitoba Hydro and the province expropriated the land of about 120 farmers in southern Manitoba because the landowners refused to sign right of way agreements with the utility.

The farmers want to negotiate a compensation package as a group but Manitoba Hydro has refused. The farmers haven’t given up their fight, as they now have a website called StopHydroBullies.ca.

They are asking voters to sign a petition, demanding that the NDP government and Manitoba Hydro respect the rights of property owners.

Contact robert.arnason@producer.com

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