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Landowners get to Oct. 4 to review hydro proposal

Property owners affected by a proposed expansion of the Bruce to Milton hydro corridor have another month to review guidelines for the environmental assessment on that project.

The official comment period ended Sept. 4, but John Steele of the Ministry of Environment said the Ministry has extended the normal 30-day comment period.

“It would make some sense that some of the people may have legitimate reasons such as harvesting, that we do give additional time. We will accept their comment until October 4,” Steele said.

Property owners represented by Powerline Connections Grey Bruce had backing from local councils in their request for the extension. Many of the property owners are farmers who didn’t have time to review the complex 87-page terms of reference during the busy harvest season.

Spokesperson Jim Magwood is encouraged that Hydro One and the Ministry of Environment agreed to the extension.

The landowners’ group hasn’t taken a position on whether the third set of high voltage transmission lines is needed, Magwood said. The focus is on the significant impact the corridor will have on the 190 property owners the group represents.

“(Hydro) has the resources and they’ve determined this is what’s needed,” Magwood said.

“Our main concern is to try and make sure the concerns of our landowners – be they with regard to the environmental assessment or (that) they are fairly compensated – that Hydro is aware of these concerns and work toward . . . a solution.”

Those concerns centre on what will be included in the environmental assessment, and whether property owners will get fair compensation for having towers on their land.

In some cases it will be the third set of towers on a property, and for some farms there will be two or more towers built. Other people will lose homes or barns to the corridor widening.

It’s the second time recently the Powerline Connections group has made progress in drawing attention to landowners’ concerns.

Earlier this summer it reached an agreement with Hydro One that resolved some property owners’ worries about hydro crews coming on their land for pre-construction work.

“Because our requests have been fair and reasonable we have enjoyed a friendly and progressive relationship with Hydro to this point in time,” Magwood said.

Hydro One has approval from the Ontario Power Authority to widen the existing 180-km Bruce to Milton high voltage transmission corridor by up to 61 metres and build a third line of towers with an estimated price tag of $600 million. The line will carry power from restarted nuclear units at the Bruce Power site and from wind farms in the area.

The project is on a tight schedule with completion targeted for late 2011. The added month for comments isn’t expected to upset that deadline, Steele said.

By Pat Halpin

The Record