The Dryden Observer

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Power Play?

Chris Marchand

Chris Marchand served as editor of the Dryden Observer from August 2009 to April 2018.

The announcement made by Goldcorp and a consortium of 13 First Nations to run new transmission lines from Dinorwic to Musselwhite Mine and remote communities in the Far North via Pickle Lake has some interesting political implications.

It takes the tempered enthusiasm of the seasoned Northwesterner to process what may be going on here. The region’s history features many examples of far less grandiose schemes that have never come to fruition. So when a mine and a group of reserves boldly announce a 300-kilometre transmission line from Dinorwic to Pickle Lake, Musselwhite Mine and beyond, 1,200 jobs and the end to dependence upon diesel-generated electricity for 10 remote communities by 2017 — all with nary a peep from Hydro One, Ontario Power Generation or the province — one is tempted to file the press release in area reserved for Sasquatch, or the Dryden bypass.

While skepticism is a healthy virtue, so too is a recognition of the potential political importance of the Pickle Lake corridor to the future of the region.

While a proposed route for four-season road and rail access to the Ring Of Fire mining area has seemingly been chosen by the province and the mining interest behind the road’s development — running north just east of Lake Nipigon — the Pickle Lake/Windigo option somehow refuses to go away.

That’s because it just makes far more sense to a lot of people, not to mention stands to benefit more northern communities if that new four-season route began off the Windigo Rd.

It might be useful then to consider the Wataynikaneyap Power proposal in the context of the critical decision-making that will guide the development of Ontario’s Far North for generations to come.

When the controversial Greenstone route runs smack into the insurmountable opposition that Native leaders have pledged to provide, will the Pickle Lake option have but one more feather in its cap in the form of this power proposal?

Chris Marchand

 

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